For the past six months, residents of Gig Harbor have been without an indoor recreation center. But the Peninsula Metropolitan Park District is working to change that and is in the midst of determining the feasibility of a 190,000-square-foot indoor recreation facility that would replace the Performance Golf Center on 14th Avenue Northwest.
If the project is given the green light after the feasibility study’s expected conclusion in mid-September, the new facility would contain a soccer field, flag football field, pickleball and tennis courts, a walking track, indoor playground, and 12 multipurpose classrooms for community activities. But Peninsula Metropolitan Park District (PenMet Parks) Interim Executive Director Glenn Akramoff is careful to note that the project is far from finalized.
“Should we? Can we? And will we? Those are the questions we’re looking to answer with this study,” he says. The study is also addressing preliminary designs, permits and establishing a budget—which is currently $25 million, but could change as the process continues.
Earlier this year, under former Executive Director Richard Fink, PenMet Parks signed a purchase-and-sale agreement for the current Performance Golf Center property at 2416 14th Avenue Northwest. According to a February 2019 News Tribune article, voter approval of a levy lid lift in 2017 gave the district the money to purchase the property for about $4.3 million. It’s a site the district has been eyeing for some time, Glenn said. As a newly formed district in 2006, PenMet Parks considered the location for a park, as it was already zoned for recreational use, but it was too ambitious of a project for the new entity. Nine years later, the district returned to the golf center site with revived interest. Then, PetMet Parks’ Indoor Soccer Center—which served an estimated 65,000 residents annually—closed in November of 2018. The closing of that facility left not only a void for local soccer enthusiasts who have to travel to Bremerton or Tacoma for an indoor facility, but it also left multiple PenMet Parks employees without offices. An August 2018 News Tribune article reported that staff were working out of portables at Sehmel Park until a new administrative space was found.
“That’s what really created some energy to get moving on an indoor facility,” Glenn said, explaining that the center could also be used for large community gatherings. “We are trying to fill the needs that are out there right now.”
The soccer center off 36th Street Northwest was owned by Tacoma Screw and leased to PenMet on a year-to-year basis, former PenMet Executive Director Terry Lee told the News Tribune in January of 2018. “At some point they are going to want to use that site for distribution,” he said in the 2018 article. That time came last fall, and the district’s lease expired in November.
Since then, the district has considered multiple locations for a new recreation facility, including the PetMet Parks-owned Peninsula Gardens property, the Boys & Girls Club of Gig Harbor, and Performance Golf Center. After a feasibility study completed on the three locations in late-2018, district staff determined that the Peninsula Gardens site was too expensive for development and would not deliver adequate amenities for the investment. The Boys & Girls Club facility presented challenges with space-sharing, as well as a high cost of initial investment. Since December of 2018, all eyes have been on the Performance Golf Center property.
But the district has seen two executive directors since the decision to purchase the golf facility. Richard Fink left the district earlier this year and told the News Tribune in February that the district was working “fairly fast” on the new recreation center. He said the golf facility would be torn down and the remaining building would be remodeled this summer and open by fall of 2019 with classrooms and programs for the public. Fink told the Tribune the recreation facility would be constructed and “hopefully available to the public by spring 2020.”
But Glenn says that since the district doesn’t even own the golf property yet and no decisions about the buildings or their future have been made, the district is “looking to provide a lot of opportunities for public comment.”
Those opportunities include a May 8 meeting at the Gig Harbor Civic Center at 6:30pm. Information about the facility and recent updates can be found at PenMetParks.org/recreationcenter. Residents can call or email Chuck Cuzzetto, PenMet Park District's marketing specialist, with questions or concerns at 253.888.0645 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The feasibility study is expected to be complete by September 13. If the project is deemed possible—the property is suitable for the proposed facility, planned improvements are permitted and the cost of the project is within PetMet Parks’ means—the board will move ahead with the purchase of the property.
“We want to make sure to listen to everyone’s feedback,” Glenn says.