City officials, residents discuss Recreation Buildings Master Plan

The City of Redmond has proposed a community recreation center to be located on the city
The City of Redmond has proposed a community recreation center to be located on the city's civic campus.
— image credit: Courtesy of City of Redmond

At the City of Redmond, one of the main goals for staff and officials is to make the city a place where people want to live, work and play.

And on Wednesday night, members of the community showed how important the latter is for them as they filled the City Hall Bytes Café for a community conversation about Redmond’s Recreation Buildings Master Plan project. The master plan looks at the future of Redmond’s four recreation buildings: the Old Redmond Schoolhouse Community Center, Old Firehouse Teen Center (OFH), Redmond Senior Center (RSC) and Redmond Pool at Hartman Park.

“The Recreation Buildings Master Plan reflects what we have heard from the community to date about the types of recreation amenities they would like to see in Redmond,” said Redmond Mayor John Marchione.

Katie Anderson, parks and recreation deputy director for the City of Redmond, along with Keith Comes and Boris Srdar of NAC|Architecture in Seattle gave a presentation about a proposed community recreation center that would be built on the city’s civic campus at 15670 N.E. 85th St.

Throughout the evening, residents had the opportunity to provide feedback on the recommended option and discuss the project, estimated costs and site recommendation.

“Public input is essential for a master plan process,” Anderson said.

Marchione added, “The public process will allow us to refine the plan and scale our wants with our resources going forward.”

The two-story proposed building would be between 85,000 and 86,000 square feet and feature two swimming pools — one recreational and one lap pool — a gymnasium, weight room, fitness and aerobic rooms, locker rooms, rental rooms, classrooms and an indoor track circling the entire building.

For Doug Portelance, his biggest interest in the project concerns the swimming pools as he and other members of his family are swimmers. He said he likes the idea of having a recreation and lap pool to serve different needs. Portelance added that he likes the synergy of the proposed building and having various recreational options available in one location.

The proposed recreation center’s location would be the campus’s current parking lot between City Hall and the Redmond Library, which raised concerns among attendees as they wanted to know where parking for the campus would be located instead.

Parking would be relocated to a proposed new parking garage in the northeast corner of the campus. This caused further concerns as a number of attendees said moving parking further away from the buildings — especially the always-busy library — would discourage people from visiting the campus. Attendees were also concerned about the availability of disabled parking.

In response, Comes said there would be disabled parking available in front of the buildings but the ability to park right in front of a building is becoming less of a reality when developing an urban neighborhood. He added that a portion of the parking lot — in front of the library — is actually King County property so that is something else they have to consider. Comes said the county has told them that they would like to be part of the discussion throughout the master plan process.

In addition to the proposed community recreation center on the city’s civic campus, the proposed master plan would also move the teen center to the campus, as well.

This was a cause of great concern among teens attending the meeting.

Jasmine Kozak-Gilroy, who is a member of the OFH’s Youth Advisory Board and Advocacy (YABA), said the teen center’s current building and location allows them to hold shows, concerts and other events and she is worried they will lose that if they move.

“I think that’s so important to our history and our ability to move forward,” the 17-year-old said about the events.

Leo Simernitski, 16, added that a big part of the OFH’s appeal is that it is a place that teens can call their own and learn to be independent. If the teen center was to be included as part of the recreation center — an idea that was quickly turned down in previous meetings — or somewhere nearby, Simernitski said it would feel like teens would be volunteering to be babysat since their parents and other adults at the recreation center would be in walking distance.

Levi Casto agreed. The 15-year-old added that part of having a separate building also allows teens to maintain their separate identity and culture from the rest of the community.

With all of these concerns, Anderson reminded attendees that creating a master plan is a process and things are still in the early stages.

“It’s the best idea we have at the moment,” she said about the proposed recreation center. “And that isn’t to say that’s not going to change.”

Public feedback from Wednesday’s meeting was collected and will be presented to Redmond City Council for a study session on April 8.

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