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New community hub for Casino Road being planned


Graphic by EnvironmentalWorks

A sketch of the future repurposing of a building at 14 E. Casino Road and its courtyard. The blue is a large multipurpose room.


EVERETT — The genesis of a community hub on Casino Road is taking its first steps.
The hub will be in one of the four buildings in the Children’s Village center at 14 E. Casino Road.  
Inside, there may be classrooms, meeting space, and a nurse’s station. Room for an employment center might happen. Open windows and sunlight will brighten the building, and a lighted courtyard patio will give a place to relax day or night.
Overall, the hub will give people a place to go. It will give a shared space for a heavily populated area with multiple cultures and mutual aspirations to strengthen the neighborhood.
But before things get ahead of themselves, it will take fundraising and some muscle to get it built. This is where the community may be asked to help build its community hub.
Work may start soon. The nonprofit ChildStrive is moving elsewhere in the campus this August* to open up space for the hub.
The eventual hope is for all four buildings to make way for creating more hub spaces. One of those buildings includes a commercial kitchen that can be used.
About 150 community members came to Horizon Elementary School April 17 to give ideas on what the hub should have during a brainstorming session in English and Spanish.
Designers were quick to get to work, and brought back ideas at a meeting one week later on April 24 at the same place and same time where a crowd of 75 came to see the plans.
Azucena Spidell was excited to see a nurse’s room in the concept plans. The school cafeteria worker beamed that it was her suggestion during the brainstorming session.
Others appreciated that there are more classrooms, and more space.
“You have listened because you have given us another classroom, a multipurpose room and another bathroom,” Miriam Vargas said at the second meeting.
The courtyard in the middle of the center would be reshaped with an octagonal wall and raised space. Covered benches could give a place to sit in rain or shine.
Open space would bring in more light, and walls inside the building would come down. “I think it’s perfect to get rid of those walls,” Vargas told designers.
The need for some sort of public Casino Road center has never gone away. Neighborhood leaders have been discussing how to create a community center for years.
Casino Road has one of Everett’s largest populations earning below the county average. For more than a decade, the community has pushed away a reputation that it is a hotbed for gangs and violence.
One believe is that the community needs places to convene. There is a YMCA children’s center in the Children’s Village campus where the hub is planned, and the Boys and Girls Club is nearby, but every addition helps.
More than one-third of Casino Road’s children live below the poverty line.
A group called the Casino Road Initiative is leading the effort to create the hub. It hired the Pomegranate Center, a small firm specializing in community spaces, to develop the plans.
At the meeting, the organizer asked for a show of hands if what was before the group was the wrong direction. No hands went up.
It will take money and volunteer labor from the community to create the hub. The hope is to pool resources such as having people do construction and landscaping work. There can be volunteers making food for others doing work.
“Making this a reality will depend on mobilizing volunteers in the community,” Casino Road Initiative coordinator Sara Boyle said.

How to pay for it?
The nuts and bolts are that ChildStrive (a home visiting service formerly known as the Little Red School House) will lease its space to the Casino Road Initiative.
The initiative is a coalition of more than two dozen community groups. The Whitehorse Foundation provided the Community Foundation of Snohomish County a $700,000 grant to plan the project and organize the initiative.
“We will do the most with what is available,” meeting leader Milenko Matanovic, who is the Pomegranate Center’s founder and director, told the crowd.
The initiative has $10,000 in capital, but will need to do fundraising most of the year to get the hub off the ground, Boyle said in April.

For more information
Find design sketches for the community hub on the Casino Road Initiative’s website, www.casinoroadinitiative.org/community-hub or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/CasinoRoadInitiative

 

 

* UPDATE May 30: The month ChildStrive will move out was puhed out to August. The change occurred in the time after the April meetings reported on above.

 

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