Eastside Community Center open house

Get a look at the latest schematic designs for the 55,000-square-foot Eastside community center at an open house on May 18. The public is invited to ask questions and comment during the two-hour session, which starts at 6 p.m. at the Salishan Family Investment Center, 1724 E. 44th St, Tacoma.

The community center will be built on the campus of First Creek Middle School, near the intersection of East 56th Street and Portland Avenue. It is expected to open in spring 2018. Because of the project’s proximity to a wetland and the 373-acre Swan Creek Park, members of the public have suggested that the building’s appearance reflect its natural surroundings.

ARC Architects, the firm hired to develop preliminary designs for the structure, will present its recommendations at the open house. “This is an opportunity to influence the look and feel of the building,” said Dave Lewis, director of recreation and community services for Metro Parks Tacoma. “We are looking forward to a community conversation about the types of materials and colors that will define their gathering place.”

Already, ideas that emerged from the community over the past two years have influenced the programs and activities that will be housed in the center. They include: a leisure-oriented swimming pool featuring amenities such as water slides and an adjacent climbing wall, plus lap lanes; a music recording studio; a teaching kitchen; a 300-person social hall; a gymnasium with a full-size basketball court; a fitness center with free-weights and cardio equipment; and a café-style lobby with publicly accessible computers and Wi-Fi. These are just the highlights. In general, the building is designed for multipurpose use.

Metro Parks is also in discussions with the Boys & Girls Clubs of South Puget Sound to offer after-school youth development programs at the center. Many of the rooms also will be available to community members and businesses.
The purpose of the open house is to gather feedback on ideas from community members, with an opportunity to comment on plans, building materials, colors, etc. “We envision the center as a community hub, embraced and fully utilized by residents who want a place to gather, recreate, grow strong and stay healthy,” said Andrea Smith, a member of the Metro Parks Tacoma Board of Commissioners who serves on the project’s Executive Committee.

In addition to the Boys and Girls Clubs, partners in the planning and construction of the center are Tacoma Public Schools, the City of Tacoma, the Tacoma Housing Authority, and the Greater Metro Parks Foundation. The project also receives enthusiastic support from the Billy Ray Shirley III Foundation, named for a teen who was lost to gun violence and had dreamed of building a community center for the Eastside. Supporters are actively raising funds so that construction can begin later this year. If you are unable to attend the May 18 open house, the schematic designs and other project news will be posted online the next day at ImagineEastside.org.

Open house
What: Eastside Community Center open house
When: Wednesday, May 18, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Where: Salishan Family Investment Center, 1724 E. 44th St., Tacoma (located behind the Community Health Care clinic)

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