Edmonds senior center’s big boosters include travel guru Rick Steves

EDMONDS — A fundraising campaign to build a new senior and community center was launched thanks to about $1.25 million from the state and a $500,000 pledge from Edmonds travel guru Rick Steves.

The new $10 million building would be built on the existing site of the Edmonds Senior Center at 220 Railroad Ave. on the city’s waterfront, said Farrell Fleming, the senior center’s executive director. It would replace a building that opened in 1967.

Construction on the planned 22,000-square-foot building could begin in 2017 and take about a year to complete.

During construction, the senior center will operate out of temporary quarters. “We serve 4,000 seniors a year,” Fleming said. The senior center plans to continue most of its programs while construction is under way.

The new building also will be home to a community center. The senior center’s programs typically end about 4 p.m., said Edmonds Mayor Dave Earling. That means the building could be opened up during the week and on weekends for other programs. “It’s a real partnership,” he said.

The fundraising campaign is being led by Rose Cantwell, mother of U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, and Edmonds City Council member Diane Buckshnis.

“We want to raise those funds so there can be a community center down there for all ages,” Rose Cantwell said.

Cantwell moved to Edmonds in 1998 after she retired. By joining the senior center, older adults “can get acquainted with a new area and their neighbors and find friends,” she said.

Cantwell previously served as president of the senior center’s board. “When I first went to the senior center, I noticed it was an older building,” she said. “Then I heard it wouldn’t last more than another 10 years. That’s been 15 or 16 years now. We need a new building.”

The goal is to raise roughly $2.5 million in initial grants and then open a public fundraising campaign in about a year, Fleming said.

Steves, who owns a travel business in Edmonds, could not be reached for comment Tuesday. Fleming confirmed the $500,000 pledge from Steves. The city announced it was getting $1.25 million from the state for the project last week.

The senior center’s 15-member board has pledged $120,000 of their own money to the project, said Daniel Johnson, a member of the senior center’s staff who is helping direct the fundraising drive.

The project to build a new senior center was first publicly discussed in November 2013 when both Rose Cantwell and Maria Cantwell were at the center for its 41st anniversary, Fleming said.

“The vision of it being a community center has been Rose’s from the get-go,” he said. “She has been the strongest voice on our board for its development.”

Sharon Salyer: 425-339-3486; salyer@heraldnet.com.

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