Opinion

PEAK to serve Island youth, schools

Daniel Johnson
Island Forum

Recently there has been some misinformation about the Boys & Girls Club’s proposed PEAK project. I’d like to clarify these points.

What is the PEAK?

  • The PEAK is a new modern facility for the youth of Mercer Island (it is not a regional facility).

  • It has a 27,000 square footprint (45,000 square feet overall). The PEAK’s innovative and efficient design will complement other campus buildings and minimize neighborhood impact.

  • It includes a Boys & Girls Club, a Teen Center (complete with tech lab, music studio, games room, teaching kitchen, learning lounge and outdoor terrace); space for infant, toddler and school-age childcare; and a sorely needed multi-use field house that can be used for a variety of sports.

    Momentum

    Momentum for the project is strong:

  • We have raised $13.9M of our $16.2M goal. We are 85 percent of the way!

  • The development agreement has been approved. The City uses this to ensure that we build the PEAK while addressing the issues of the community. Completing this step has paved the way for permits.

  • We are finalizing details of a 50-year lease agreement with the School District.

  • Thanks to the generosity of Michael and Billie Jo O’Brien, we have an exciting plan for our current West Mercer site that, for at least 10 years, will preserve the current gym and develop ball fields for Island residents.

    West Mercer vs.

    high school campus

    A thoughtful process led us to the current location choice. In 2003 we explored renovating the West Mercer site but the cost, $10M in today’s dollars, would have left us without additional gym space or a dedicated teen center. The West Mercer site simply doesn’t have the space, and the failing current building requires millions in infrastructure improvements.

    The proposed site is a far wiser use of resources. We can use millions of dollars from the sale of the current site to help fund the PEAK. We will build an exciting facility right where the kids are. Students will be able to walk to the PEAK, and its central location is more convenient.

    Our collaboration with the school district led to a shared-use agreement that will benefit all. The high school can use the facility during school hours and the school district can move wrestling to the PEAK, freeing up room for classrooms, teacher offices and storage. The proposed PEAK location is unused space on the campus and the plans give the school district space to expand down the road if needed.

    Traffic and parking

    The intersection of 86th and 40th has long operated at a level of service below city standards. Our traffic study raised the visibility of this problem and accelerated the City Traffic Improvement Plan that will make needed improvements. The PEAK will pay a prorated share based on its impact. We will add 99 new parking stalls and will share another 156 stalls with the school district.

    Community input

    We have worked closely with the Mercer Island community through this entire process since its beginning in 2004. We’ve been readily available and eager to hear comments at City Council and School Board meetings, day-long stakeholder meetings, neighborhood meetings, service Club appearances, PTA meetings and more.

    We have integrated many community suggestions into our current plan. We have and will continue to listen.

    Everyone agrees that our youth are a priority. This project represents a rare opportunity to make an historic investment in our youth—let’s get it done.

    Daniel Johnson is the president/CEO of the Boys & Girls Clubs of King County.

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