New community center a perfect fit for Everett

Luck, it is said, is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.

Everett would be lucky indeed to be the site of a multimillion-dollar Salvation Army community center, but the fact that it’s in the running isn’t accidental. The community’s forward-thinking approach to development, one that is yielding exciting long-range plans on the city’s shorelines and elsewhere, has put it in a competitive position to land a prized “Kroc Center.”

Everett has applied to host the much-needed facility, and its bid is substantial. The city would contribute 12 acres of riverfront land to The Salvation Army for the project, part of which it would acquire from the Port of Everett. Important institutional supporters have lined up in support of the bid, including Everett Community College, the Everett School District, the Everett Parks Department and Senior Center, the YMCA, Providence Everett Medical Center, the Everett Boys and Girls Club, the Everett Housing Authority and Snohomish County.

City officials had to move quickly to gather support and find a site. They were informed just last month of The Salvation Army’s interest in the area, and wasted no time in gathering support and looking for an appropriate site.

Five to 10 Kroc Centers are planned for the Western United States, and they will have an enormous impact on the communities that get them. The first, opened in San Diego in 2002, includes an aquatic center, gym, ice rink, recreation fields, a theater, a dance studio, an indoor skateboard park and a fitness center, and other amenities in 190,000 square feet of building space. The centers are funded by a $1.5 billion gift from the late Ray and Joan Kroc, made by Joan Kroc upon her death last year. Ray Kroc was the founder of McDonald’s restaurants. A grant would fund construction (the San Diego center cost $57 million) and an endowment would help pay for operations.

Monthly fees in San Diego average $13 for adults, $11 for seniors, $10 for children and $35 for a family of four.

Everett is seeking a center with two or three swimming pools, an active senior program, fitness center, computer lab, libraries, a gym, youth programs and, if possible, ballfields. The swimming pools alone would be a huge boost – the EvCC pool, which was used by the college, school district and community at large – remains closed because of expensive roof problems.

The location, alongside a planned riverfront park and just north of a future home for shopping and Bastyr University, is perfect. It’s located in the heart of a diverse and growing population base with few recreation opportunities nearby.

This is a worthy investment for the city to make in a facility that would have such a wide and lasting benefit. The Salvation Army can be confident that such a facility would be embraced by the community, and appreciated for generations to come.

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