Opinion

Island Forum | Boys & Girls Club PEAK project is celebration of community

On June 29, the Mercer Island community broke ground on the Mercer Island Boys & Girls Club PEAK project being built on the North Mercer High School Campus — not a few individuals or one organization, but the Mercer Island community.

When we first proposed this project over five years ago, we did so to bring an opportunity to the community that could never be realized at our current club site on West Mercer Way. Just as Mercer Island wisely chose to build a new Community Center rather than renovate an old school building at Mercer View, our community and, particularly, our children were not going to be well-served by a coat of fresh paint, new plumbing and earthquake reinforcement at the Boys & Girls Club on West Mercer Way, a building originally opened in 1915.

When completed next year, the Mercer Island Boys & Girls Club PEAK will include space and activities for all ages: daycare, computer labs, a teen center, a music recording studio, art room, teaching kitchen, gyms, classrooms, meeting space, a wrestling room and a modern Boys & Girls Club. The new club will support a wide variety of before- and after-school programming for Mercer Island youth. The facility will also be utilized during school hours by the Mercer Island School District. Equally important, this facility will create opportunities to bring our community together.

Our school buildings, Community Center, Summer Celebration! and even the Farmers Market prove that when Islanders are given a venue to congregate and interact in, that is exactly what they do. In this day and age when people are more and more insulated, we need places that bring people together.

I truly appreciate the dedication and thoughtfulness of City Councilmember Dan Grausz in mediating a settlement with Amanda Clark on behalf of a group of neighbors who raised serious concerns through the public permitting process. I also appreciate Amanda’s willingness to engage in the process and work tirelessly toward a mutually beneficial resolution. It is clear that our initial outreach attempts failed to identify, early on, the concerns we later worked together on to resolve. As we now begin construction, we will continually strive to do whatever we can to ensure that we are and remain a good neighbor.

We similarly want to thank the people of Mercer Island for providing the financial support for this project, both with the many individual contributions as well as the public funding from both the city and school district. We have committed ourselves to providing a full range of community programs that in many other municipalities are government-provided.

The Mercer Island Boys & Girls Club PEAK will open next summer, and our club board, made up of 24 Mercer Island residents, is already hard at work in planning for that opening.

On June 29, we began what so many people made possible, but most importantly, we started what I am convinced will be a tremendous step forward for our community, primarily our youth. Thank you for making this possible.

Blair Rasmussen is the Director of the Mercer Island Boys & Girls Club.

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