City to move forward with Community Center adjacent to Les Gove Park

City officials are moving to make Auburn’s 20,000-square-foot community center a reality.  - Courtesy rendering/BLRB Architects
City officials are moving to make Auburn’s 20,000-square-foot community center a reality.
— image credit: Courtesy rendering/BLRB Architects

Lean times or not, the City of Auburn intends to move forward with funding and preparations for a 20,000-square-foot community center adjacent to Les Gove Park.

Although on Monday the City Council passed a resolution that defines an intent, a sister resolution passed several weeks ago spells out how the needed $8.5 million is to be put together from different funds in the City.

Resources include a $3 million grant from the state construction fund and $5.5 million in City funds that are to be transferred into and budgeted in the Parks Capital Construction Fund.

Suggestions for getting the $5.5 million needed include $1.5 million from the pending sale of two City-owned blocks south of City Hall to Teutsch Partners LLC, $750,000 left over from the sale of parking spaces in the Sound Transit garage, the real estate excise tax and the reserve fund.

In varying forms, the idea of a community center has kicked around ever since the City authorized the first study in 1980.

Residents are to use the center for educational, cultural, recreation and social activities and for large community and trade events. When completed, city officials say, it should meet a significant need in the southeast King County area, where there are no multi-service, community gathering spaces.

Auburn City Councilman Rich Wagner, chair of the Community Center Committee, said the project was "dear ... to my heart."

"I think it is a great thing that the mayor and the staff have managed to figure out a way to fund this in these kinds of times. I think it is the most important thing that the City of Auburn can do to maintain its community character and the character of people who work together, respect each other and enjoy living here," Wagner said.

Mayor Pete Lewis expects to take some criticism for the decision.

"There are people who will say, 'Well, this money could have been spent for this, or this money could have been spent for that.' Let's keep in mind that most of the money on this is either project specific — that's the $3 million — or it's limited in what its uses can be. It has to be spent on development. It doesn't get to go for one thing or another. What we're really using is pots of money that, for the most part, are really limited in what they can be used for," Lewis said.

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