Waterfront Park Community Center makes it official

Councilwoman Debbi Lester and senior community center member Don Fisher cut the ribbon and make it official. - Richard D. Oxley / Bainbridge Island Review
Councilwoman Debbi Lester and senior community center member Don Fisher cut the ribbon and make it official.
— image credit: Richard D. Oxley / Bainbridge Island Review

It was a team effort and at times, it wasn’t easy.

The list of helping hands was extensive, the work ahead, daunting.

But in the end, the brand-new Waterfront Park Community Center was built by islanders, for islanders.

The island’s senior community packed the new Waterfront Park Community Center Wednesday as speeches were made, and people were thanked at the successful close of the major makeover project.

“It really takes a village to create a community center,” said Sue Barrington, the new manager of the senior community center.

There were a lot of people to note as part of the new center’s success; parks district employees, city staff, current and former city council members, volunteers and more.

But perhaps the most considerable leader was the island’s senior community itself. They started in a small house on Bjune years ago. Their community grew larger and bigger roofs were required to house them. The final solution was to build the new center.

Hands were shaken and meetings were held between multiple parties from the island’s governing bodies. When it came time to pay the bill, half of the $500,000 cost for the project was raised by the seniors.

“There’s a theme here,” said Councilwoman Debbi Lester. “This was island-designed. Money was cycled back through the community.”

Lester used her position as a council member, along with former members Bill Knobloch and Kim Brackett, to help the center emerge despite difficult economic times.

In fact, the center almost didn’t happen at all.

“The first try was a grand two-story building with the entrance on Bjune,” said Jane Allan, a former director of the senior community center.

“But then the economy tanked and that was the end of that. We started thinking a little smaller,” she recalled.

The center has slowly come into being ever since. Different wings were constructed at different times, as to not interrupt gatherings or classes that the parks department holds there.

Local contractors stepped up. The city, parks district and the senior center banded together determined to make it happen.

It all led up to Tuesday, when islanders could finally cheer and applaud the ribbon cutting, officially opening the new and improved center.

Lester and senior center member Don Fisher cut the ribbon using scissors owned by islander Reid Hansen. His mother owned the scissors before him, and they were the same blades that cut the ribbon at the opening of the Agate Pass Bridge in 1950.

After it was made official, islanders wasted no time getting settled into the center’s new chairs, and hitting up the tables full of coffee, cake and plentiful treats.

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