by Ralph Nichols

Just over six months from now, a new Burien Community Center will open to the public in the old library building at SW 146th Street and 4th Ave. SW.

Remodeling of the 20,000-square-foot library building is expected to begin in late October or early November, following the permitting process, with completion anticipated by the end of January, says Michael Lafreniere, director of the city’s Parks and Recreation Department.

McKinstry Co. of Seattle has been awarded the contract for general construction, heating, ventilation and air conditioning, and electrical improvements. The building was vacated in June when the Burien library moved into the new library/city hall building at SW 152nd and 4th Ave. SW.

The new community center will include programs for seniors; the remodel will include a small kitchen for catered meals for seniors.

Remodeling of Burien's 20,000 square foot former library building is expected to begin in late October/early November.

Lafreniere expects his department will begin the move from the existing community center at SW 144th and 4th Ave. SW in February, and that staff will have everything “ready and running come April” for the start of Parks and Recreation’s spring program schedule.

The total cost of transforming the library building into a community center is just under $1.5 million.

Final approval for spending that amount on this project came on a 4-2 vote by the Burien City Council last month as lawmakers authorized transfer of $425,000 from the city’s general fund and Parks and Recreation budget and another $75,000 from the Capital Projects Reserve Fund.

Councilman Gordon Shaw strongly dissented, calling it “foolish” spending, and Councilwoman Rose Clark cast a “reluctant” no vote because of financial realities.

The remodeled library is expected to house the community/senior center only for three to five years, when plans call for a new community/senior center to be built at the current site – if the economy improves and if voters approve a bond issue to finance construction.

Shaw argued that instead of spending over a million dollars on a temporary facility, that money should be put in the bank, which when make a new community/senior center building more affordable when that day comes.

A new community center is slated to be constructed in 3-5 years at the site of the current one on 4th Ave SW.

Kristy Dunn, the department’s recreation supervisor, says the remodeled library will house seven rooms for a variety of arts, learning and recreation programs, a larger “gathering space” for the community, an area for teenagers, possibly a dedicate space for exercise equipment, the catering kitchen, and staff offices.

“The new facility will cater better to the idea of a gathering space for all the community,” Dunn observes. The space will be “welcoming and integrated into an all-ages community center.”

Less than two years ago, preliminary plans called for construction of a new $35 million Burien Community Recreation Center that would include senior programs, with work beginning last July and a grand opening projected for January 2011.

But those plans were put on hold when the federal and state economies tumbled in 2008 and local sales tax revenue also declined.

City Manager Mike Martin says that following the move of the Parks and Recreation programs to the remodeled facility next spring, a number of non-profit programs will continue to operate out of the current community center building.

These include the Burien Little Theatre, Para Los Ninos, and Pre-School Cooperative, and White Center Head Start until its facility is rebuilt.

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Since 2007, The B-Town Blog is Burien’s multiple award-winning hyperlocal news/events website dedicated to independent journalism.

One reply on “Remodeling Of Old Library Building Into New Community Center To Begin Soon; Expected To Open In April”

  1. I applaud Gordon Shaw and Rose Clark for their No votes. Why does it cost 1.5 million to renovate a building that (from my memory) was already nice- The HVAC worked. It cannot cost that much to add a few walls to make rooms. McKinstry is over charging the city just like the over charge Boeing for construction. And make sure the plumbing is done right, Mr. Martin, from my experience as a plumber at Boeing McKinstry likes to short cut.

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