It's quiet at The Granite Falls Youth Center now because students are on winter break, Sallade said. Even so, he plans to be at the center during regular business hours to work on projects that include building a front counter.
Sallade, a martial arts instructor and owner of the Dragon Gate Martial Arts Academy, officially opened the center Dec. 12 at 109 S. Alder Ave. The 7,0000-square-foot building is where he also teaches self-defense and martial arts.
Sallade, 38, and his wife, Alysa, first leased the former Gold's Gym site in March but quickly noticed the space could be used for more than their classes.
"We came to realize we're underutilizing the facility," he said. "It's too big for what we're doing, and for the business that we had we couldn't justify using it just for martial arts."
City officials have looked for opportunities to open a temporary youth center since the Boys & Girls Club lost its lease and closed in 2005. A location for a new Boys & Girls Club has not been selected and the city does not have the $500,000 that is needed to fund a center, Mayor Haroon Saleem said.
Both a location and funding could still be possible within about five years, but no one wanted to wait that long for a youth center, Saleem added. He and others in the city support the new Granite Falls Youth Center.
"Everyone is the community is pitching in and we're excited," Saleem said. "We will be looking at multiple places where we can have youth activities in our city."
The center features a gym for boxing, wrestling, martial arts and gymnastics, a basketball court, and a front lobby with pool, and foosball and air hockey tables. Although its doors are open, there's still work to be done at the center, Sallade said. A 1,600-gallon koi pond in the planned study lounge needs to be encased to protect the fish and youths. The floor of the basketball court needs some repair and a hoop hasn't gone up yet. Signs for the center are expected to go up today.
Sallade also plans to turn an upstairs caretaker's apartment into a youth lounge.
"It will be set up like a youth district coffee shop where we've got their art and poetry and posters and drawings up on the walls," he said.
The center has 20 members so far and has a goal of 400 members by the end of its second year, Sallade said. Monthly memberships cost $20 per child, or $50 per family. Scholarships are available for those who cannot afford the membership fee.
Sallade's daughter, Faelynn, 13, said she plans to help spread the word to her classmates at Granite Falls Middle School.
"I think I know a lot of people who would like to come to the youth center," she said.
Amy Daybert: 425-339-3491; email@example.com.
Help Granite Falls youth
The Granite Falls Youth Center is typically open from 2 to 8:30 p.m. on school days and is also open during some school holidays and vacations.
A wish list of items that can be donated to the center can be found on the website at www.gfyouth.com.
For more information or to sponsor youth member scholarships call Aaron Sallade at 206-293-0446 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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