Opinion

Like the library, K2 will become a community center

By RICHARD SONTGERATH

For The Beachcomber

During the past two weeks, we have undertaken a door-to-door survey of several residents of the residential buildings near the Vashon Library.

My objective was to find the frequency of use of the Vashon Library by residents of these dwelling units and how the residents get to the library. Our survey showed that the library is used often by many of these residents and that many of them walk from their homes to the library.

It is these residents who will be most impacted by a move of the library to K2 Commons, and we are grateful to The Beachcomber for the opportunity to address them as well as the entire community.

Fellow Islanders — first, thank you for taking the time to meet with me. I “cold called” many of you who live within walking distance of the library and identified myself as “Dick, the K2 Commons guy” doing a survey regarding your use of the library.

There was not one of you who was anything short of gracious. All of you were clear — you would like the library to stay at Ober Park.

What you described is that the library is about a lot more than checking out books. It is a de facto community center that provides outdoor play areas, movie rentals, computer access and a warm and inviting place to visit.

My objective in meeting with you was to better understand your use of the library, not to “pitch” you on moving it to K2 Commons. We appreciate this opportunity to share some information about our project.

K2 Commons is also a community center.

We have commitments from Highline Medical Group to build a new 10,000-square-foot Vashon Health Center, which would replace the current clinic at Sunrise Ridge. Part of Highline’s commitment is a continuation of after hours availability for health care emergencies.

Allstar Fitness has agreed to build a state-of-the-art athletic facility with an indoor six-lane, 25-meter swimming pool, basketball court, climbing wall, exercise machines, boxing ring, yoga and exercise studios, men’s and women’s locker rooms, a sauna, whirlpool and more. Our agreement with Allstar includes their commitment to provide use of the club for all Islanders, regardless of their ability to pay.

The athletic club will also include a day care facility that provides parents with a $2 per hour “drop-in day care” facility for use while participating in any of the activities at K2 Commons. The property includes a three-acre park immediately adjacent to the proposed library building, which will have lighted, outdoor basketball and volleyball courts, a “family area” with play equipment and a two-acre community garden — a P-Patch — that will accommodate 150 Island gardeners.

K2 Commons includes a commercial kitchen, which will be used by South Seattle Community College to teach cooking classes, a canning kitchen whose primary purpose is to “feed” the shelves of the Vashon Maury Community Food Bank, an eight-lane bowling alley and a 15-room inn as well as some office space.

Twenty affordable housing units for sale will be built on the property.

An “on demand” shuttle service will provide transportation between the town’s center, the school campuses and K2 Commons.

This will supplement the existing transportation service provided by Metro and the Access Van. The service will be owned and operated by K2 Commons and not dependent on any public funding. Any person on either school campus or in town will be able to call or text for a ride to and from K2 Commons. All the while, hundreds of students and teachers are within walking distance.

K2 Commons will provide an economic boost to the Island. It will use local architects, engineers, designers, contractors, consultants and suppliers.

It will provide a minimum of 50 new living wage and managerial jobs to Island residents.

Traffic safety will be ensured by a four-way stop on the main road at the entrance providing safe ingress/egress to lots of parking.

There is no retail use proposed.

It reuses existing buildings in an environmentally friendly way, and we have designed a rainwater catchment system whereby (treated) rainwater will be our main source of water.

Ironically, an Island senior recently related to me the story that in 1981, King County Library System (KCLS) decided to move the Vashon Library from its previous location at the existing Senior Center on Bank Road to Ober Park.

There was a petition signed by more than 1,000 Islanders protesting the move. Part of the nay-saying was that the library system was moving the library “out of town,” therefore making it inaccessible to seniors and others.

Island residents voted overwhelmingly several years ago to build a bigger library with expanded services. The existing library will not continue as we know it. Given the widespread use of the library — see KCLS Vashon Library Service Area Map online at k2commons.com — and our commitment to shuttle service for Vashon town residents, lots of parking, a “ready to go” building, safe ingress/egress and opportunities for employment, entertainment, recreation, day care, health care, volunteerism and more, we see K2 Commons as an excellent setting for the new library.

— Richard Sontgerath heads the Heritage Group Ltd., a real estate development firm specializing in the restoration and rehabilitation of older and historic properties.

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