Community center grand opening - Youth art and quilt project to be displayed

By Ruth Longoria

The north-end fire station has become immortalized in cotton as part of the Youth Art & Quilt Project to be displayed at Saturday's grand opening of the new Community Center at Mercer View.

A drawing of the station, by young artist Jamling Sherpa, is one of about 10 sketches by Island youths selected to be transferred to quilt panels for the center. The children -- ages 3-to-10 -- were told to draw a picture of an Island building, park, place, person or group that is special to them. They also were asked to tell why they think Mercer Island is a great community.

Jamling, a 61/2-year-old Lakeridge Elementary School student drew the firehouse because, he said, it's a great place to visit, and because he wants to be a fireman someday.

``I really think this is wonderful, because it brings the children and what they think into the community center opening,'' said Terry Pottmeyer, the Island artisan who created the quilt blocks from Jamling and the other children's sketches.

``Mercer Island is a special community and we've got some really special kids. It's nice get the kids involved in things like this.'' she said. ``It's really important that children be a visual part of our community all of the time.''

The children who responded to the contest appreciate the Island's sense of community for a variety of reasons. For example: Seven-year-old Jamie Shannon said, ``The Island is a special community because there are lots of wide spaces to run around.'' And Alexa Bauman, 7, said she enjoys the Island because it is ``filled with wonderful people.'' Margaret Seaton, 9, appreciates the ``special places to swim'' and Ellie Diedrich, 7, said she can ``learn more here than anywhere else in the world.''

Although 23 children participated in the project, only about 10 of the drawings will be transferred to fabric, that's not because of the quality of any of the artwork, which, Pottmeyer said, is excellent. ``I can't make 23 quilts, I wish I could, but there just isn't time,'' Pottmeyer said. However, all of the children's original drawings will be available for viewing at the center opening, as well as eight to ten (depending on how many Pottmeyer has time to stitch) of the brightly colored 20-inch-by-20-inch quilt panels.

The panels are expected to become a part of the center after the opening, said Diane Mortenson, community center recreation director.

The Community Center at Mercer View will be open to the public from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 10. A dedication ceremony is planned for 11:30 a.m.

Festivities begin at 11 a.m. Saturday at Mercer View

On Saturday, December 10 with much anticipation, the long-awaited and newly completed $12.4 million Community Center at Mercer View on Mercer Island will be the place to be for fun, exciting festivities and public fanfare. A grand opening fete will be held from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Those who attend will receive a commemorative chocolate coin while quantities last. Refreshments and beverages will be served and throughout the day, there will be special raffles of gift baskets.

Atop a hillside overlooking Luther Burbank Park with panoramic views of Lake Washington and the Cascade mountains, the 42,744 square foot facility at 8236 SE 24th Street is located at the old community center which was constructed in 1960 as an elementary school. The center was designed by the architectural firm of Miller/Hull Partnership. The final design has geometric emphasis and an exterior façade of brick, steel, glass and metal siding. The center will be both a primary civic meeting place and a multi-generational facility for the community.

The main level offers five program rooms for recreation, community events and meetings; a multi-purpose room of over 3,000 square feet that can be divided into three rooms with moveable walls for classrooms or smaller functions; a complete on-site kitchen for catering activities and social events; an indoor gallery for rotating art exhibits; a library and lounge area with public access computers and seating. Visitors to the center can play video games, pool, darts and air hockey in the Games Room, or enjoy a quiet moment lounging by the double-sided fireplace in The Landing. The East Channel Terrace features a covered outdoor patio equipped with a large gas barbecue for year-round use. Also on the main level, there is a health room and areas for programming/activity and administrative/reception. Stepping down to the lower level is a 10,500 square foot gymnasium with a neighboring locker room area and shower facilities. The full-sized gym can be used for volleyball, pickelball, badminton and basketball or utilized for trade show exhibitors and other larger special events.

There are dedicated rooms for for dance as well as for fitness with weight and exercise equipment on the lower level.

The focal point of the new community center is an art embellished staircase railing consisting of bronze panels depicting a relief of plants and fauna by eastern Washington sculptor Wayne Chabre. Titled ``The Island,'' the railing incorporates elements of native plant life, forests, and fruit imagery from historical orchards found on the center site -- along with a few hidden ``surprises.'' The new facility features, complete audio, visual and sound equipped rooms in addition to WI-FI, video and teleconferencing services.

The Community Center at Mercer View will expand the services and programs previously operated at the old facility. Islanders can rent space for weddings, business meetings, social gatherings' and special events. The center will open seven (7) days a week from 6:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. from Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. - 10 p.m. on Saturday, and 11 a.m. - 6 p.m. on Sunday beginning in January 2006. Hours through December 2005 will be from 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. from Monday through Friday. Visit Facility rental bookings are now being accepted by calling 206.236.3545 or e-mail to book.

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