City Council says no to community center — for now

The $12 million, 20,100-square-foot community center planned for the Les Gove Park campus has hit a snag. - Courtesy rendering/BLRB Architects
The $12 million, 20,100-square-foot community center planned for the Les Gove Park campus has hit a snag.
— image credit: Courtesy rendering/BLRB Architects

Everybody agreed Monday night that Auburn should have a community center.

For educational, cultural, recreation and social activities and large community and trade events. Also, to answer a significant need for the southeast King County area, where there are no multi-service, community gathering spaces.

Some day, that is.

But by a vote of 5 to 2, the Auburn City Council decided that now is not the time to advertise for bids to build the multi-million dollar structure long planned for the southeast corner of the Les Gove Community Campus.

Councilmembers Largo Wales and Rich Wagner, the latter chair of the Les Gove Community Campus Committee and the center's biggest proponent, voted yes.

The decision shelves plans recently announced to begin construction this July.

Councilmembers expressed concerns that the project would not come in under the $9 million — $6 million in City funding and a $3 million appropriation from the state Legislature — that has been set aside.

Councilman Wayne Osborne said that the City may not have all the money it needs right now to build the center and didn't like the idea of spending $83,000 — "a significant amount of money" — to put a project out to bid only to find out the City may not be able to afford it.

"We had three consultants estimate what it would cost to build," said Osborne, also a member of the Les Gove Community Campus Committee. "We only have $9 million set aside," he said, but estimates from several consultants hired last year fell between $10.3 and $10.5 million.

Wagner's own estimate was $9 million.

"We are asking to go out to bid at a cost of $83,000 so we can figure out the actual costs," Wales said. "It's time to look at it and compare construction costs."

Wagner argued that estimates are always going to come in high, but the actual bids will come in low because somebody wants the project.

Given the precarious state of financing, Osborne said, it would be wrong to proceed.

The City put the project out to bid four years ago but shelved it when the economy hit the skids.

Plans show a one-story, 20,100-square-foot building where the YMCA building once stood adjacent to the park, to include:

• An 8,000-square-foot gathering place that could accommodate as many as 450 people, looking out on the park, equipped with sliding doors that open on a patio.

• A lobby area, an administration area, two classrooms and a warming kitchen.

• A friendship storage room, where ethnic groups could store material for programs in the center.

• A parking lot that could accommodate 128 cars.

• An office for a police presence, should the need arise.

• A grand lobby designed with a high ceiling, generously windowed.

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