Last chance to attend community center open house

The meeting is tomorrow, March 23, from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the local senior center.

Tomorrow, March 23, is the final community center open house before the April special election.

The meeting will be from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the senior center.

On April 23, Enumclaw residents will be voting on whether to approve a $19.5 million bond for a new community center.

The overall project is expected to cost about $21 million, and includes not only new a senior center and Arts Alive!, Enumclaw Chamber of Commerce, and city of Enumclaw Parks and Recreation Department offices and learning spaces, but an outdoor plaza, indoor common area, full-sized gym, and non-committed classroom spaces for rent.

The difference between the cost and the bond amount is because the city of Enumclaw plans to use $1 million from collected real estate excise taxes (REET) and a $500,000 grant from the state legislature toward the project.

At this time, approving the bond means a homeowner with property assessed at $500,000 would see an estimated 30 cents per $1,000 in assessed value added to their property taxes; that’s $12.50 a month, or $150 a year.

As the bond is expected to last 29 years, that’s about $4,350 in additional property taxes for said homeowner over the lifetime of the bond.

But the city is planning on purchasing the bond in two large chunks — which means that any additional grants or donations made to the project means that the tax rate could dip.

For example, if the bond passes, the city already has another $1 million from its Property Management fund and a further $350,000 from city impact fees to apply to the project, which could ease the tax rate.

Finally, the city has asked the state legislature for another $1 million grant to fund the project and lift some weight off city residents.

In an email to the Courier-Herald, Mayor Jan Molinaro stressed the importance of the senior center aspect of the project, which was how the Enumclaw City Council came to putting a bond for a community center on the upcoming ballot in the first place.

He said an assessment of the senior center, built in 1927, shows that there are major structural issues and space restrictions that prevent the city from simply repairing or modernizing the building.

“It was determined that a new building would better serve the future needs of our youth and seniors in Enumclaw as well as all citizens in our city,” he said. “The estimated cost to upgrade the current senior center is in the multi-millions of dollars. Do we invest in a 1927 building or invest these same dollars in a new facility?”

Conversations about building a new senior center started in 2022, but snowballed into a full community center shortly after, with many council members and city staff hoping that the building can provide activities for all ages, from expanding the city’s youth sports programs and open gym activities to hosting concerts, farmers markets, and special events in a centralized location that brings people to downtown.