KWA to detail plans for Portland Avenue Community Center Meeting set for Aug. 16

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Future use of Portland Avenue Community Center will be the focus of a public meeting at the center from 6 to 7:30 p.m. on Aug. 16.

Metro Parks Tacoma announced last year that it would no longer manage the center, located at 3513 Portland Ave., after it opens the new Eastside Community Center this fall. The $31 million center is under construction at 1721 E. 56th St., on the campus of First Creek Middle School.

The Aug. 16 meeting offers an opportunity for the public to consider services proposed to be offered to the community by the Korean Women’s Association, in partnership with the Tacoma Housing Authority.

“We’re hoping members of the public will come and respond specifically to this proposal,” said Andrea Smith, president of the five-member Metro Parks Board of Commissioners. “We’re eager to have community members hear what the Korean Women’s Association proposes for the building’s future use.”

The proposal has been endorsed by a selection committee made up of Metro Parks employees and community members.

“We are very excited to connect with the community to provide services at Portland Avenue Community Center,” said Troy Christensen, KWA executive director. “We see this as a great opportunity to provide the essential services that the Eastside badly needs.”

Lease negotiations have not yet taken place, and the park board has not yet considered the proposal. Both are likely to occur sometime after the August meeting. However, Metro Parks has what could be a similar lease arrangement with the Asia Pacific Cultural Center, which occupies South Park Community Center at 4851 South Tacoma Way.

“Our goal at Portland Avenue is to serve more people and, based on community priorities, offer social services that we do not currently provide,” said Dave Lewis, Metro Parks deputy director of parks and recreation.

Among the priority needs, identified during past community meetings, are youth development and senior-oriented programs, meals, and medical services. The public wants services for people of all ages and ethnic backgrounds, including those with disabilities.

At the August meeting, Christensen will unveil details of the organization’s proposal. Members of the public will be encouraged to comment and make suggestions.

The KWA is a nonprofit, social service agency that operates the Lighthouse and Beacon senior centers on behalf of the City of Tacoma. It also manages meal programs for senior citizens of all backgrounds.

Last summer, the Metro Parks Tacoma Board of Commissioners voted to retain and continue management of the park lands surrounding Portland Avenue Community Center. In January, Metro Parks publicly requested proposals for use of the building for community-based programs. On June 25, the board ruled out both sale of the building and its use as housing.

Metro Parks plans to continue managing the property surrounding Portland Avenue Community Center for recreational use, including a picnic shelter, sports fields, a playground and restroom facilities.

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