The design concept for the public plaza outside the Marysville’s new civic center set to debut in spring 2022. (City of Marysville)

The design concept for the public plaza outside the Marysville’s new civic center set to debut in spring 2022. (City of Marysville)

Former community hub in Marysville set for demolition

Built in 1949, the Ken Baxter Community Center will be removed to make way for the new civic center.

MARYSVILLE — A relic of Marysville’s days as a small town will soon disappear.

The 70-year-old building that houses the Ken Baxter Community Center is scheduled for demolition in the next few days to make way for the city’s new government hub and public plaza.

The tan-brick structure next to the water tower in the 500 block of Delta Avenue began as a home for City Hall and the police department, before spending its golden years hosting recreational classes and community events.

Longtime residents recall the building’s days as Marysville’s one-stop shop for everything from checking out library books to paying utility bills. There were two jail cells and a chamber for the city council. When built, the town’s population was only a few thousand. Today, Marysville is home to nearly 70,000.

“It certainly is sentimental when you have a historic building like this with such deep roots in the community, it does bring back memories and things of that nature,” said Mayor Jon Nehring, a Marysville resident since 1993.

He said the city’s “Merrysville Home for the Holidays” event each December and the annual banquet celebrating volunteers are some of his most fond times in the Baxter building.

In a recent essay, Marysville historian Peter Condyles chronicled the center’s life from a much-needed city hall built in 1949 to a surplus property on the cusp of destruction.

According to Condyles’ account, the building was erected after almost a decade of debate over the high price. The town council accepted a $42,500 bid to build to new City Hall on a Friday in August 1949. That following Monday, construction began. By January 1950, staff was moving into the digs.

For three decades, the nondescript facility housed nearly every city service, until Marysville’s population multiplied and the quarters became cramped. As new facilities were built, the library, city council and police found new homes.

The Ken Baxter Community Center in Marysville. (City of Marysville)

The Ken Baxter Community Center in Marysville. (City of Marysville)

When City Hall vacated the space in 1998, the building was reimagined as a community center named for city councilmember Ken Baxter. In its second life, the venue became a spot for public gatherings and private festivities like weddings and parties.

Over the last few months, the community center was slowly put out of commission. Activities moved to other city locations like the Rotary Ranch and Barn at Jennings Park and the Marysville Opera House. The Municipal Court building at 1015 State Ave. will become the community’s next hangout after the civic center opens in 2022.

Mayor Nehring said the transition to the courthouse will triple the size of the community center, making it more suitable for the high demand. He said the city is still considering different avenues to recognize the beloved Ken Baxter at the center’s new location.

Workers on Monday began dismantling 514 Delta Ave. A wrecking ball is expected to be on site next week.

As one era ends, construction of the Marysville Civic Center looms large across the street. The imposing 100,000-square-foot project that began in January 2020 on six acres between Fifth and Eighth streets will dwarf its one-story predecessor.

The $47.6 million undertaking set to debut in 2022 will include City Hall, as well as Marysville’s new jail, police department and courthouse. An outdoor plaza will connect Comeford Park and the civic center. Roadblocks can close Delta Avenue to secure the space for celebrations and events.

“It is exciting to think about all the memories that we and our kids, our grandkids will make at this new site,” Nehring said.

City spokeswoman Connie Mennie said construction was on schedule and going according to plan.

The two-story, 43,130-square-foot police department and courthouse, as well as the 20,848-square-foot jail, were built first to allow ample time to install security measures. Mennie said the interior is beginning to look complete and it would likely be done by the end of the year. A four-story, 37,239-square-foot space will house City Hall, which should be open by spring 2022.

Funds from a voter-approved 0.1% sales tax increase and a city-authorized $32 million bond are going toward the project. Once employees move into the new civic center, the city also plans to sell old buildings to help with the cost.

Nehring said the improvements in these few blocks will create a central gathering place for Marysville that can help the city build an identity.

“I think you are going to have a community asset here that is unlike anything we’ve had,” he said. “It’ll help us meet that demand that will be there with people who haven’t been able to do a lot for quite some time.”

Ian Davis-Leonard: 425-339-3448; idavisleonard@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @IanDavisLeonard.

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