Youth club calls on supporters to fill City Hall

Council weighing how to help club build new Harbour Pointe home
By Nicholas Johnson | Feb 15, 2017
Photo by: Nicholas Johnson Jenson Zaccaria, a fifth-grader at Mukilteo Elementary School, shoots pool with second-grader Taela McMillan on Thursday, Feb. 9. McMillan and Zaccaria said they regularly ride the bus after school to get to the Mukilteo Boys and Girls Club’s Old Town location.

Chuck Davis is doing everything he can to get supporters of the Mukilteo Boy and Girls Club to turn out for a public hearing set for 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 21 at City Hall.

“I want to fill that room up,” the director of the local club said. “The more people we can get to speak in support of the club the better.”

Davis sent a mass email to club supporters Feb. 7 with an attached letter that read, in part, “We need your help!” and encouraged anyone who has benefitted from the club over the past 55 years to show up and give the City Council reason to contribute as much as $500,000 toward a new facility destined for Harbour Pointe.

“We understand there are many demands on the city, and only limited funds,” he wrote in his letter. “However, we feel this project would be a wonderful addition not only for our most important asset – Mukilteo’s children – but to all the other residents, as well.”

The Council is weighing two main options: sell the existing Old Town building – known as the historic Hawthorne Hall – and put the net proceeds toward the club’s new facility, or maintain that historic building for other public uses and support the club’s project with reserve money.

Many club supporters say helping the club is the right thing to do, regardless of where the city finds the money to does so.

For Joe Marine, who served as Mukilteo’s mayor from 2006 to 2013, investing in the club – getting in on the ground floor – is just good public policy, especially considering the city’s lack of publicly available athletic fields and facilities.

“I am supporting the Boys and Girls Club now for the same reason I supported the YMCA when it wanted to build a skate park,” Marine said, noting that the city contributed some $350,000 toward that effort in the late ‘90s when he was on the City Council.

“Why would the city want to do something like that itself when the club is already doing it? It makes sense to partner with the club, put some money in and then the club will manage and maintain those facilities.”

The majority of city residents live in the Harbour Pointe area, Davis said.

“About 67 percent of kids go to Kamiak High School and Harbour Pointe Middle School,” he said. “Our being that close will give those kids access where they haven’t had it in the past.”

Davis said he’s excited about the possibility of coordinating with area schools to host sports tournaments between various gyms.

“We could run a volleyball or basketball tournament and bring teams in from throughout the state who would have to stay over night,” he said. “That would benefit the hotels, and it would be another benefit to the city in terms of tax revenues.”

Marian and Rod LaFountaine of south Everett homeschool their two high-school age boys. A few years ago, they turned to the club because their sons wanted to join a basketball team. Soon after, they began volunteering as coaches themselves.

“As coaches, we go to other clubs in the county and we see some really nice facilities that are better able to serve their communities,” Marian LaFountaine said. “The club here in Mukilteo has a smaller gym so we usually have to practice at a school gym.”

The club makes it possible for low-income children to play team sports, LaFountaine said, adding that the new facility will allow it meet its potential it to do the same for even more children.

“I feel it will bring Mukilteo together more as a community,” she said. “I think it’s time the Council see the fact that the club is not only asking for money, it’s giving a lot to the community.”

In early 2015, Mayor Jennifer Gregerson earmarked hundreds of thousands of dollars for the club, as well as the Mukilteo Senior Association, Davis said. The Council didn’t support that proposed spending and nixed those lines from the final budget, he said, noting that some on the Council, such as Randy Lord, have preferred to hold onto reserve funds for potential public infrastructure projects.

“I have hard time understanding why he doesn’t want to support the club,” Davis said. “The city has $1.2 million in reserves that it could easily dip into to support the club.”

For their part, members of the senior association say they would like to see the city help the club, in spite of the fact that they have hoped for a dedicated facility of their own for years.

“We’re not asking for any handout from the city, but we are hoping they might loan us the land,” Carolyn “Dode” Carlson, the association’s vice president, said. “We’re not looking for the city to buy us a building. We want to make it happen through grants. We have to prove that we need a building by amping up our programming and getting more seniors involved. It’ll be a long road, but it’s possible.”

For now, Carlson said the association is excited to have a presence in the club’s new facility and about the potential for intergenerational activities between seniors and children.

“The Boys and Girls Club serves youth and the youth are in school until 3:30 p.m.,” Davis said. “From 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., the club is dormant. If the seniors want to run programs during those hours, we would be happy to have them.”

Davis said he’s glad the Council decided to give the community a chance to express its support for the club and encourage the city to do the same, especially after years of working to secure that support.

“This has gone on for so long and every time I think we’re going to move forward, something else comes up,” he said. “We’re going to break ground in June. We expect to apply for permits with the city this week. Once we get those, we can start taking bids and get started. Our supporters see what we have now and they can see what we’ll be able to do with our new building. I think that will impress the Council.”

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