Open houses on proposed community center planned for March

Enumclaw residents will vote on the $21 million project in April.

The city of Enumclaw recently announced upcoming open houses for the proposed community center.

Mayor Jan Molinaro confirmed that there will be two public meetings — one on March 14, from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m., and another on March 23, from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Both will be hosted at the senior center.

Here’s some background information, for those who haven’t followed this story for the past year and a half.

The idea of a community center has been around for years, if not decades, though elected officials have ultimately punted the concept down the road.

That is, until the city council decided in February 2022 that Enumclaw needed a new senior center, and the idea snowballed into asking city residents to pass a bond to fund a full community center.

To be located on the corner Cole Street and Initial Avenue, the community center would include a new senior center, as well as new Arts Alive!, Enumclaw Chamber of Commerce, and city Parks and Rec Department offices and instructional space. (The current Arts Alive! and Chamber buildings would be torn down.)

Additionally, there will be a kitchen area — both for the senior center and private use through rentals — a commons area for general use and performances, non-dedicated instructional space for classes or meetings, and a full-sized gym that would not only be for public use, but would help expand the city’s youth and adult sports league programs.

In short, the city has said the current plans for the community center will provide something for all ages to enjoy, like pick-up sports, art classes, under-cover pop-up markets, and various performances throughout the year.

The whole project is expected to cost $21 million, but with city planning on using some of its general fund dollars for the project, the bond measure on the April 24, 2024 special election ballot is for $19.5 million.

According to the city, it’s estimated that a someone with property assessed at $500,000 would see an additional 30 cents per $1,000 in assessed value added to their property taxes; for those who don’t want to do the math, that’s $12.50 a month, or $150 a year.

As the bond is expected to last 29 years, that’s about $4,350 over the lifetime of the bond.

However, the city has said it’s found several million in grants that it can apply for if the bond passes — which, if approved, would ultimately lower the tax burden on locals. Any individual donations to the project could also affect the tax rate.

Only Enumclaw residents are voting on the bond, so if you live outside the city limits, you won’t see the measure on the April ballot.

The bond will only pass if it received 60% approval from Enumclaw residents, and at least 40% of voters who participated in the last general election also have to participate in the April election.

“If that threshold is not met, it won’t matter if the measure passes with 60 percent of the vote,” Molinaro said in a recent press release. “… In other words, voter turnout matters.”

Molinaro added that the city is asking for a fond because Enumclaw’s general fund can’t finance such a project on its own without significantly impacting other public services like police, parks, and transportation.

Also, the senior center is in dire need to being replaced, he continued — the building is about 100 years old, and simply can’t be repaired or modernized without exceeding the value of the building itself.