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PEAK edges closer to breaking ground

Before long, construction crews will move in to begin creating the newest Boys & Girls Club in King County, PEAK. The project has been years in the making for many of the club’s board and supporters, and now they are finally seeing the long-sought plans come to fruition. As the ground-breaking ceremony gets closer, excitement levels have stepped up a notch.

“Some of these people have been working on it for 10 years,” said Blair Rasmussen, executive director of the Mercer Island Boys & Girls Club.

The project is in the final stages of getting approval for permits from the city and received final approval from the Mercer Island School Board on April 16.

“That was the last major hurdle,” said Margaret McCormick, director of communications for the MI Boys & Girls Club. “We think it will be a great win for the Island.”

The club expects to break ground within the next two months, and the entire project is estimated to take a year to complete. Rasmussen said they are targeting a June 2010 opening.

“Once it gets going, it is pretty quick,” he said of construction.

The project’s construction is being underwritten by U.S. Bank, the same company that the Boys & Girls Club of King County used to finance the Rainier Vista project, located in Rainier Valley. Currently, the club has $14.6 million in pledges and other guaranteed funds toward PEAK. Construction costs are estimated to be $14.5 million.

Once a ground-breaking date is set, Rasmussen said a ceremony is planned to celebrate the achievement, along with eventual tours of the project. He added that tours probably would not take place for several months. Hard-hat tours of the Rainier Vista project were done about six months into construction, a set-up that Rasmussen said PEAK would most likely follow.

“It’s really a great way to show people what’s going on,” he said of construction tours. “It’s a fun way to get people excited.”

One aspect of the project that some members of the City Council said they wished the Boys & Girls Club had pursued was Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification. The club decided not to go for LEED certification, a program through the U.S. Green Building Council, mostly because the process is very expensive and time-consuming. Aspects of certification simply were not practical for the PEAK project, Rasmussen said.

“Building toward the standard is just smart,” said Rasmussen, but overall, he said that attempting the long process of certification was not something the club had the time or funds for. The club will continue to look at green practices during the planning and building process, Rasmussen said.

“Some things were pretty obvious and straightforward,” he said. “Others were more difficult. Our goal is to build toward the standard, but there are things that just are not practical.”

The current building was built in 1915, so by default the new building will be energy-efficient in ways which were not possible at the old site. McCormick said the focus at the new building is on energy efficiency.

Within the LEED certification process, buildings earn points for various practices, such as green rooftops, something Rasmussen said the club looked into, but in the end it was not a viable option. Other options were easier, such as bike racks and being close to high density areas.

“We’re doing as much as we can,” said Rasmussen about working toward creating a green building.

More information about a ground-breaking ceremony and tours of the property will be made available once times and dates have been established.

For more on PEAK, go to www.mipositiveplace.org.

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