Eastside Community Center: #ImagineEastside

Eastside leaders, Metro Parks, and the Boys and Girls Club are asking the public to join them in envisioning a new community center for the currently underserved part of Tacoma.

Imagine a place where youth and families can safely gather to play, learn and grow. #ImagineEastside

The vision is for a project that creates a space for multiple needed services and amenities under one roof, a space that creates a sense of community for residents, especially young people, on Tacoma's Eastside. 

The idea for this project has been percolating for a while now, and now it's beginning to gather steam. A public-private partnership of is working on plans for a new Eastside community center on the campus of First Creek Middle School (near East 56th and Portland Avenue), and close to Swan Creek Park. The 55,000-square-foot center would be home to facilities including a swimming pool, a gym, a playground, and a kitchen; hosting activities like after-school progams, cooking classes, nature hikes, and more.

It would be a safe place for kids and adults to grow, learn, improve their fitness, gain skills, find services, and build community. The project partners - Metro Parks, the Boys and Girls Club, Tacoma Schools, Tacoma Housing Authority, the City of Tacoma, and community leaders - are collaborating on program plans, building designs, cost estimates, operating models and more. 

Those plans are still being developed, and input from the public is still being taken. Many ideas are being discussed: 

  • A leisure-oriented swimming pool featuring amenities such as water slides and lap lanes.
  • A climbing wall.
  • A music recording studio.
  • A teaching kitchen.
  • A 300-person social hall.
  • A gymnasium with a full-size basketball and volleyball courts.
  • A fitness center with free-weights and cardio equipment.
  • A café-style lobby with publicly accessible computers and Wi-Fi.
  • Medical services.
  • Ways to address the problem of the Eastside food desert.
  • A small businesses incubator. 
  • Services to all youth in the area, including more than double the number currently served by Boys & Girls Clubs' youth development programming.
  • Aquatic programs, including exercise swimming as well as a leisure pool with shallow depth and warm water amenities.
  • Adaptive recreational facilities for those with physical disabilities.
  • Creative space for music, theater, dance, and visual arts.
  • Nature walks, environmental education and mountain biking by taking advantage of the connection to Swan Creek Park.
  • Adults and senior programming, trips and events.
  • Event rental space for weddings, parties, corporate and community events.
  • Library services in collaboration with First Creek Middle School.

To move plans along, and to gather input from the public, a community open house is planned for May 18 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Salishan Family Investment Center. Attendees will get a chance to see the latest schematic designs for the Eastside community center, and to ask questions and make comments.

A video posted to YouTube featues community residents and leaders talking about the need for the center, and their hopes that it will be life-changing for the youth and adults of the Tacoma's Eastside. Dave Lewis of Metro Parks sums up the hopes in the video:

"This isn't your standard recreation center, this is a true community center"

Learn more on the project page.

Setting aside the the somber tone of the video - this is exciting for the Eastside. What are you excited to see included?

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When I read anything with “envision” what I’m really seeing is another upcoming tax levy

May 8, 2016 at 7:45 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

6 | 5


Oh, while I’m at it…How much will the Puyallup Indians be contributing to this? This is their “sacred holy land” isn’t it?

May 8, 2016 at 10:50 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

6 | 6



Considering that the tribe contributes MILLIONS of dollars a year towards the growth of the city? I’m sure they’ll pony up .05

June 1, 2016 at 1:49 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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They also contribute drugs and gangs to the city (Native Bloods), The cause trouble with the police (protests and marches) when one of their darling members who was in and out of prison tries to kill a cop. They block key projects which would benefit all and possible save lives (earthquake-proof new I-5 Puyallup River bridge) unless they can extort enough money from the state. Want me to go on?

June 1, 2016 at 4:40 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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East Tacoma

The community center is not being built on reservation land.

June 8, 2016 at 1:37 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Isn’t there already a community center on Portland Avenue?

May 9, 2016 at 7:45 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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East Tacoma

The Portland Ave Center is less than 8,000 sq feet

The new center will be 55,000+ sq feet, PLUS shared space in the school. ( gym, auditorium, kitchen, arts labs, and library) 

June 8, 2016 at 2:24 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Stephanie Smith

Still the Portland Avenue Community Center provides vital services to the surrounding neighborhood! Meals for kids and seniors. Important to have places for kids to play that are free because this area is low income. ASKING CHILDREN, FAMILIES AND THE ELDERLY TO TRAVEL TWO MILES UP PORTLAND AVENUE TO USE THE SERVICES THEY DESPERATELY NEED IS UNFAIR AND IRRESPONSIBLE! The outdoor features are priceless and getting rid of the Portland Center that is a neighborhood HUB in order to help fund this center is taking from one neighborhood to help another! Their own feasibility study for the east side points out the difference in incomes and ages in the area and that many of the residents wouldn’t be able to afford or support these amenities. The center is directed at attracting people from more affluent neighborhoods to the area without concern for the impact to the people who use the existing Portland Avenue Community Center and depend on it.
It’s wrong to take away the Portland Avenue Community Center and Park, District 4 and Eastside shouldn’t have to make any sacrifices. We have the fewest parks and more people. I read about all these new features and improvements that they are putting in other districts and I can’t believe that they would take away the main park for our area for funding when they are throwing money around in other districts without asking for them to lose spaces and places.
This area has no major grocery store chains, limited bus service, we lost our Swan Creek library and many of the improvements in the area focus on the Salishan area. Our sidewalks are poor quality and people drive so fast down Portland Ave without concern for pedestrians. So lets ask young kids and elderly to walk two miles for a meal that they depend on!?! https://www.facebook.com/SAVEportlandavenuecommunitycenter/

May 17, 2017 at 9:11 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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This type of facility really seems like something that would lend itself well to a joint use with an existing school.  Activities for the “young people” of the east side of Tacoma would generally be held outside of school hours.  Is there any reason at all that a gymnasium couldn’t be used for BOTH a school and for after school and summer activities?  Is there any reason that a swimming pool couldn’t be built at one of our public schools and offered to be used by the community during evenings, weekends, and during the summer?  Is there any reason that a new or renovated school auditorium couldn’t be leased to the public for weddings and community events on weekends?  Let’s pool our resources here and spend our money wisely.  Even though the City of Tacoma and Tacoma Public Schools may not agree with me, they are both publicly owned entities, working for the same group of people.  There is absolutely no reason that they can’t work together to create shared facilities.

May 9, 2016 at 9:26 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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altered chords

wait a minute.  cooking, music recording, weights and cardio equipment?  All of that appeals to me.  Mix in extra math and science lectures or software coding and it would be perfect.

May 9, 2016 at 3:45 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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altered chords

just make sure the recording studio is designed by recording experts and the athletic portion is designed by athletes.  Don’t have some oversight committee that doesn’t know a conga from a 45# plate from a plate of jambalaya design the whole thing.

May 9, 2016 at 3:48 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Regarding the “food desert” issue on the Eastside, the parking lot at the proposed center should be better designed to facilitate public farmer market activities.  Facilities to help fuel a weekly market for farmers at that site should not be an after-thought in the final design.  In particular, there should be a covered area so that such produce tables could operate year-round.

May 12, 2016 at 7:41 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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East Tacoma

Food access, teaching kitchens and Perma-culture, including a Farmer’s Market area, are all being evaluated as part of the plan.

June 8, 2016 at 2:27 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Will this be bum and junkie-proof? Looks like a lot of hiding places (the lookouts)

June 1, 2016 at 4:42 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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East Tacoma

Will this be bum and junkie-proof? Looks like a lot of hiding places (the lookouts)

Joe, don’t worry they won’t deny you access to the Community Center.

June 8, 2016 at 2:30 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Don’t worry,  I have no plans to use the “community” Center. I’m just worried about it attracting another gathering of tents and blue tarps along with the 300 cubic tons of trash which usually accompanies these darling “campers”

June 12, 2016 at 2:54 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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