PenMet breaks ground on community recreation center
The parks district hosted a community celebration Thursday evening to hail the beginning of Phase 2 construction. The $31.6 million facility is the most ambitious project undertaken by the 19-year-old agency. It is being built on the 17-acre former Performance Golf Center site that PenMet bought in 2019 for an additional $4.3 million.
“We are celebrating. … We are making it happen,” Executive Director Ally Bujacich proclaimed to an overflow crowd spilling from beneath a white tent canopy.
She was backed by the evidence. Behind the stage, heavy equipment rested on a dirt canvas undergoing metamorphosis. A mountain of artificial turf from the old driving range was piled alongside.
What will be included
On the site will rise a new 58,300-square-foot structure housing a 175-by-75-foot turfed soccer/football/lacrosse field; three full-sized multipurpose sports courts for basketball, pickleball and volleyball; a two-lane elevated walking/jogging track; and rooms for community gathering. The project includes extending Cushman Trail from 24th Street to the facility, an outdoor event lawn large enough for kids soccer, music and vendors, and a renovated miniature golf course.
The moment was made possible by talented and hard-working employees, project partners and supporters, Bujacich said.
“We are so grateful,” she said. “The real reason we are here today is because of you, our community.”
PenMet asked what residents would like to see in a community recreation center. They responded it should be inclusive, flexible and accessible.
“We listened to you, and we learned about your priorities,” Bujacich said. “… It meets all the needs you identified, bringing all your vision to life.”
Proclamation thanks legislators
Parks Board President Steve Nixon read a proclamation recognizing state Sen. Emily Randall, D-Bremerton, and Reps. Michelle Caldier, R-Gig Harbor, and Spencer Hutchins, R-Gig Harbor, for sponsoring the district’s request for capital budget funding during the 2023 legislative session. They acquired a little over $1 million for the project.
PenMet occasionally is awarded state grants, but never has received a budget appropriation.
“And we think it’s a really big deal,” said Nixon, adding that the district has been talking about a recreation center since losing its lease years ago on the now-nonexistent indoor soccer center. “It’s very rewarding. It signifies the final step of the project.”
Each lawmaker received a framed copy of the proclamation. They were visibly touched by the gratitude.
Lawmakers moved by gratitude
“We were all taken aback,” said Hutchins. We thought the proclamation was just about the project. When it had elements in it to recognize us, that was really sweet. We were just delighted to support it. The project is so important what it’s going to do for a vast number of people in this community.”
What appealed to the legislators was PenMet’s organization and project readiness.
“They really brought us a shovel-ready project,” said Caldier, who joined her cohorts, Bujacich and board members in a symbolic dirt-turning with golden shovels. “One thing we learned from the pandemic is how important social interactions are, and this brings the community together.”
Building contract awarded in July
The PenMet board on July 18 awarded a $20.7 million CRC construction contract to Jody Miller Construction. The Spanaway firm agreed to begin work within 10 days of written notice and complete the project in 13 months, according to documents.
Other budgeted costs include $1.9 million in sales tax, $4.3 million for architectural, engineering and consultant fees, and a $1.1 million contingency. Funding sources comprise $11.6 million from the district’s capital projects fund, $16.6 million in bonds, and $4 million in public and philanthropic support.
Phase 1 comprises renovating the existing pro shop building, which will become PenMet headquarters and community space. That work was contracted to reach “substantial completion” no later than May 12. It hasn’t.
PenMet anticipated moving out of administrative offices at 5717 Wollochet Drive and into its permanent location, but on July 18 the board approved a three-month lease extension. The construction contract requires the builder to pay PenMet $600 per day in damages from May 12 until completion. Those fees are expected to cover the lease extension, according to documents.