Lacey mulls a shared community/learning/aquatics center for children and families

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The Lacey City Council is exploring a three-way partnership with North Thurston Public Schools (NTPS) and the South Sound YMCA to explore the feasibility of an indoor Young Child and Family Center.

During a joint work session of the City Council and the NTPS board on Tuesday, representatives from the school board and the city discussed the concept for the project with South Sound YMCA.

“If we combine a learning center with family recreation, we can fill the educational gap,” Lacey Parks and Recreation Director Jennifer Burbidge said. “And we can then create opportunities for the families.”

The three parties said they still need to figure out where to get the estimated $63 million that would be needed to build the 70,000 square feet project, proposed to be located north of Nisqually Middle School.

Burbidge said the proposed Young Child and Family Center will feature a spray park, indoor activity areas for learning, an indoor family pool and both indoor and outdoor adventure playgrounds.

NTPS representative Monty Sabin said of the 70,000 square feet, 45,000 will be allocated to the project area and 25,000 will be for public use.

South Sound YMCA President Kyle Cronk said the demand for indoor learning centers in the city had outpaced the present number, citing that at least 40% of learning communities were closed in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The need is massive, especially in the North Thurston area,” Cronk said. “It really calls for more creativity and for more collaboration.”

The City Council and the School Board were both optimistic about the proposal.

“We need some indoor spaces for young people to gather and have fun,” said Lacey Deputy Mayor Malcolm Miller.

As reported in The JOLT last fall, Olympia and Tumwater have discussed the creation of an aquatics center (see story). 

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  • jroly911

    This is truly an awesome idea and truly needed. Being great for youth and family, it fills a gap; is close to the freeway, and the existing athletic complex. Hope funding is available. Let get it!

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