Photos by Alika Jenner.

Photos by Alika Jenner.

Event to push Benson Hill family center to the endzone

The second annual Doug Baldwin Combine event is coming up

Former Seahawk Doug Baldwin fell in love with Benson Hill when he first moved there in 2011. But he noticed the local youth didn’t have much to do, he stated in a video produced by the city of Renton.

The city, Renton School District, HealthPoint and Baldwin are getting closer to the end zone of the Family First Community Center, a new services and recreation center in the Benson Hill area, pushed for by Baldwin.

The city estimates about $5 million left to raise for the center, if accounting for both pledges and current money.

So Baldwin is hosting his Doug Baldwin Family Combine event for the third year, with the proceeds going to the project.

The event, on Sunday, June 23 at Renton Memorial Stadium, is for attendees of all ages to test their Seahawks skills in several courses, including a 40-yard dash and hitting a tackling dummy.

It costs $30 to participate, with spectator tickets costing $5. Participants get an activity card, field wristband and T-shirt.

Baldwin credits a facility in Pensacola, Florida similar to the proposed center as what helped make him the man he is today. Baldwin has donated $1 million of his own funds to the center.

On the event website, Baldwin highlights the proposed community center.

“Community centers not only provide athletic and educational activities, they are the building blocks for character building opportunities,” Baldwin states on the website. “These opportunities are being denied to many of the youth of today especially in the Cascade/Benson area.”

That area, which was annexed into the city in 2008, has about a-quarter of the city’s population. It’s also historically underserved, according to the City of Renton website. The Puget Sound Regional Council has also rated the area where the new center is located as a “very low opportunity area,’ determined by education, economic health, housing quality, mobility, and health and environment.

The project has received funds and donations from both the public and private sectors, including the First Financial Northwest Foundation, King County and the state of Washington. Council also approved $4 million for the center in 2017, which helped with finding a project manager and architect.

Mayor Denis Law said in a previous interview with the Renton Reporter the center was one of his top priorities as he finishes his last term in office.

The project is expected to start at the end of this year, or early 2020. In January, Renton City Council approved an agreement with an architect for the center and confirmed the cost of the project at about $15 million.

At the Jan. 14 Committee of the Whole meeting, Council President Don Persson said he was concerned about where the rest of the money needed would come from.

“When we go down the line, we’re gonna be into this $4 million to $5 million dollars,” Persson said. “I won’t be on the council by then, but as a (resident) I would anticipate the city won’t be putting in another $4 million to this. My concern is we get to a point where we spent all this money and can’t build it.”

At that meeting, city staff told council they were working with several business entities and grants to raise additional money. But to meet the building deadline for the $1.5 million the state set aside for the project, the design had to get started.

City staff also said there would be several meetings for the public about the community center before shovels go in the ground. Information on the Family First Community Center is available here.

Learn more

More information on the event is available at DB89Combine.com.

Photos by Alika Jenner.

Photos by Alika Jenner.

Photos by Alika Jenner.

Photos by Alika Jenner.

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