Enumclaw Council Approves Commencement of Preliminary Community Center Design

CORRECTION: The print edition of this article stated that both community center options being considered by Enumclaw City Council had gym space – one a high school sized gymnasium and the other a the size of a primary school. This is incorrect: the second option only considered room for a small exercise room, not a larger gym. This online article has been updated, and a correction will be printed in the 8/10 issue.

There is still much to plan and schedule, but Enumclaw Town Council has taken another step in solidifying a plan to build a new community center in the town centre.

After a heated discussion at the July 25 meeting, City Council voted 5-2 to move forward with the design of a facility to house four organizations – the Seniors Center, Chamber of Commerce, Arts Alive! and Enumclaw’s Parks and Recreation Department – ​​and a high school-sized indoor gym.

Council members Chance la Fleur, Corrie Koopmann Frazier, Tom Sauvageau, Beau Chevassus and Anthony Wright voted to approve the design of the center taking into account these specifications; Board members Bobby Martinez and Chris Gruner voted against the design (both said they preferred a non-gym design, but wanted both designs to be developed by Cornerstone Architectural Group).

This is only a preliminary design and changes may – or even are likely – to occur. But as it stands, the total building footprint (interior and exterior) is expected to be close to 59,000 square feet, and construction (which includes permits, impact fees, and engineering) is estimated over $14 million.

Enumclaw certainly doesn’t have that kind of dough on hand, so clearly the only way to pay for such a project would be through a voter-approved bond, which means guaranteeing an approval rating 60% (supermajority).

Mayor Jan Molinaro noted at the meeting that an obligation measure could end up on the April 2023 special ballot “at the earliest”.

The impact of a bond on your wallet depends on the actual construction costs, the duration of the bond over 20 or 30 years and the ability of the city to obtain subsidies to reduce the pressure on ratepayers.

Assuming the $14 million cost estimate is correct, a 20-year bond would add 35 cents per $1,000 of property value levy rate to current property taxes. This would increase the average property tax bill (for someone with $420,000 in property) by about $147.

If the city opts for a 30-year bond, the levy rate is estimated at 26 cents, with an average annual increase of nearly $110.

The next steps obviously require a finished preliminary design and additional input from potential community center occupants.

The council discussed the need to get broader community feedback on what locals would like to see in their community center, but it is unclear how the collection of this information will be done; it was noted that the most successful survey the city has run recently was for Bark Park, built in 2018, but only around 1,000 people responded – less than 10% of the city’s population at the time.

THINK BIG, OR GO HOME

According to the city, an ad hoc design committee (consisting of Chevassus, Wright, and Gruner, and city staff) considered four community center options, but only options that housed the Senior Center, Chamber, Arts Alive! , and Parks and Rec were presented to the full board.

Wright said this was because any smaller option “had a significant impact” on the four community center stakeholders and could negatively affect voter attitudes when issuing a bond.

So all that remained was to discuss whether or not to include a high school-sized gym (7,367 square feet) or just a small exercise room (600 square feet).

“I think we should go all out and be as inclusive as possible to get as many votes as possible for the community to accept,” Koopman Frazier said, noting that she would rather see a gym than the community center. “I would only want to do this if we were going to do it all and then let the voters decide.”

Several council members said the need for a place where local youth can go for various activities was a need that Enumclaw had desperately lacked for years.

“It’s my 11th year on the council, and it’s a topic that preceded me by probably 15 years, and a constant point of concern that I hear from people is, ‘we need a community center, we need a place for a teenager to play basketball or racquetball,” Fleur said. “Especially having a young child myself, there’s no place in Enumclaw to come inside with a 0-6 year old and out of the house for a while.”

Although Martinez agreed that there are few places where young people can do activities – he would know that, having grown up here, he said – but he thinks a large gymnasium just won’t do. used.

“I just don’t see any sort of guarantee or data to support the position that this will be heavily used by our young people,” he continued. “I know everyone wants something for them to do, but I don’t know if a gymnasium is that answer…I don’t know if spending $16 million on our constituents is going to address the issue that everything the world asks – ‘what are we going to do with all these children?’ »

Gruner added that the council must also take into account the current economy and the tax burden residents are already experiencing and various upcoming tax increase proposals, including the fire department cover lift measure. Enumclaw voted by residents on August 2 and an Enumclaw school district. measure of obligation that will be placed on the February 2023 special ballot.

“We want to make sure we have something that works for the community, but doesn’t affect people who are struggling either,” he said. “It behooves us not to just look at what people wanted, because everyone is going to want everything, right? The difference now is what the financial constraints are, and that’s where our job, I think, becomes difficult, and we’ll have to seriously consider those things, and be able to say ‘yes’ to something that might not be 100 percent of what we want.

City documents show that the smaller gym option would reduce the total size of the community center to about 50,000 square feet and reduce the cost to about $9.6 million. It’s unclear what kind of effect a project of this size would have on local property taxes, as the smallest estimate of obligation given to the city was $12 million.

Molinaro said that while the country could still experience an economic downturn next spring, and that “I am sensitive to the voters and the economic situation of many people in our community, I think we have to look beyond this situation. current economy. situation, because it is a building that will be here beyond many of us…it is a long term investment.

PROGRAMMING AND REVENUES

With a high school-sized gymnasium, the city’s Parks and Recreation Department sees a major expansion in the programming it can offer the Enumclaw community.

Currently, the city offers one youth basketball season, three men’s basketball seasons, two youth volleyball seasons, and three adult volleyball seasons. In total, this brings about $39,000 into the city’s coffers each year – although you have to factor in the $12,000 it costs the city each year to rent school space for these activities.

A city-owned gym could more than triple net revenue simply by adding several additional seasons of youth and adult sports, and additional revenue could be generated by renting the facility to school sports teams, pickleball groups , home school organizations for physical education and peeing. -wee soccer practice, as estimated in the community center documents submitted to council.

“I think it would definitely be possible to run these programs 2 or 3 more times throughout the year and they would be successful,” parks and recreation director Michelle Larson said in a statement. email interview, after the print deadline. “If not, there are several other programs we could offer. Being creative with programming will be key to ensuring a good flow of revenue and ensuring the gym is utilized.

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