October 9, 2007

Nothing new under the sun

If there's one thing we learn here working at the Spokesman it's that - just like the old adage - the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Cars going too fast through Terrebonne? Read the Spokesman issues from the mid-1920s. Downtown on the cusp of 'revitalization'? Start in the mid-1980s and work your way forward. Redmond needs a highway to bypass the city center? That idea has been floating around for decades.

Now, it appears as the rest of Redmond's empty spaces fill and what developed spaces we have become more crowded, so do the city's community facilities.
Redmond's Boys & Girls Club, Cascade Swim Center, Redmond Senior Center and all of the city's playing fields and school gymnasiums - all full, booked or anticipating running out of room soon.

Talk has been circulating for the last year, the idea of expanding and centralizing many of these amenities in one place for better convenience and cost efficiency.
Is this news? No. It isn't even new.

February 2, 1994: "...the community center could be a joint effort of the city recreational program, REDCAP (Redmond Community Action Plan), the parks commission, COPRD (now RAPRD), and other local entities."

At the time concern for children was foremost on the minds of organizers, and no doubt the grander idea of a combined-use community center was a hard sell. So by 1995 the 'community center' had morphed into just the Boys & Girls Club, which finally opened in 1997. Meanwhile, the Redmond Senior Center moved to larger quarters in the early 1990s - and is already feeling a little snug -- and Redmond constructed four new schools with gymnasiums and fields that fill as fast as we build them. As Redmond's population doubled, then doubled again in the last 10 years our modest swimming pool and adjoining features has remained exactly the same.

The idea of combining all these needs, instead of parceling out each project to a different location and funding source, is the sanest idea to come out of the last 20 years - if not exactly original. The senior center faces a huge glut of users as all the Baby Boomers turn gray and we're seeing no shortage of families with school-age children move to town.

How much would a large-scale project of this scope cost? A whole lot. But would it cost more than taking each need separately and treating them as individual community projects? Probably not. Seeing the bigger numbers - acreage, square feet, money - needed for a real community center is scary, scary enough to cause hesitation and opposition. But a project like this, well-placed, planned and prudently financed, would be a jewel in Redmond's crown and make us the envy of other cities.

-- Redmond Spokesman editorial

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