Cascade/Benson Hill area community center gets $1.5M donation from state

Family First Community Center was dreamed up by Seahawk Doug Baldwin and the city.

With one final donation from the state, the city of Renton has now ready to build the proposed Cascade/Benson Hill area community center.

The state of Washington allocated $1.5 million from the 2018 supplemental capital budget for the Family First Community Center, which was dreamed up by Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin and the city.

“This has been a vision that Doug Baldwin and I have been working on for over two years,” said Renton Mayor Denis Law in a press release. “Thanks to the tremendous support of our legislators and a phenomenal public-private partnership, we have raised the necessary capital funds to get started.”

The city is looking to build an approximate 25,000-square-foot center right next to Cascade Elementary School, in the heart of the Benson community. The estimated cost to the center is $15 million.

The Benson area was chosen for this project largely due to the lack of investment in the area since the annexation of Benson Hill in 2008.

The Renton City Council helped launch the project by authorizing $4 million last year. Other businesses have also donated money to the community center, including First Financial Northwest Foundation, Starbucks, Car Pros and ATS Automation.

According to the press release, ATS Automation pledged to match each dollar donated by their employees. Tom and Karen Easton, owners of ATS Automation, donated $75,000. Members of Renton Rotary raised $90,000 for the center.

In 2016, the population in the area was 23,769, which is about quarter of the city. According to the 2015 demographics, 12.8 percent of the population within the half mile radius of Cascade Elementary School was below the poverty line and earned less than $24,000 per household. Nearly 19 percent of the population is 14 years or younger and 65.5 percent of students from that area are eligible for free or reduced-priced lunches.

The community center aims to provide free educational and recreational opportunities, offer health and fitness programs, as well as have on-site health and wellness programs. It will also aim to have after-school classes and programs, including youth sports, art classes, music classes and technology classes.

The city is also partnering with HealthPoint, a non-profit health center that will help provide health programs and services. Some of the health and wellness programs will include group exercise, cooking classes, personal training, health education, life management and personal training.