A new addition to Tacoma’s Eastside neighborhood has been stirring up a lot of excitement. On Oct. 20, Metro Parks Tacoma welcomed the community to the newly constructed Eastside Community Center. Within the first month, more than 2,200 people became pass holders to access the 55,000-square-foot facility. The center includes a multiuse gymnasium, sound recording studio, social hall, culinary kitchen, weight room and cardio-fitness areas, and a large pool with a party room, lap lanes, diving board and hot tub/spa.
While the center’s amenities definitely warrant high marks, what’s more impressive is how this building is bringing a community together. During the design process, youth from the area participated in workshops, site visits and guided design brainstorming with industry professionals to provide input for the culinary kitchen and sound recording studio. With the building now complete, these youth can be proud of their influence, which led to the trendy wall color and comfy hangout couches in the sound recording studio.
Large hearts on the floor of the kitchen serve as a reminder that the kitchen is the heart of a home.
Matthew Etienne, one of the students who contributed to the process, could hardly contain his enthusiasm when he toured the building shortly before it opened. “It means so much—it’s such a big deal—it’s for everybody,” he said. “It really touches my heart to see that somebody actually cares about the Eastside, and about the kids.”
Partnerships with nonprofit groups are also helping to strengthen community bonds. Boys & Girls Clubs of South Puget Sound has been able to double the number of students it serves on the Eastside. Catholic Community Services uses the culinary kitchen to prepare and serve a nutritious and delicious lunch two days a week for seniors. Several other groups use the meeting spaces throughout the week to teach skills or provide services.
“We hope to become the hub of the Eastside,” said Ben Foster, the center’s supervisor. “This can be where everyone comes for business meetings, community events, health and fitness, or just to play. We want everyone to utilize it and feel welcome.”
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