A Vision in the Heart of Seaside: A Letter from the SEPRD Board of Directors
The corner of Broadway and Highway 101/Roosevelt Drive in Seaside is perhaps the highest profile intersection in our community. The sale of the Broadway Middle School (BMS) has surfaced both hopes and fears among locals: Will the property be purchased by a major discount conglomerate and host huge glaring discount signs and traffic? Could it become a strip mall or an industrial shipping center? Would new high-priced condos be built for tourists, when we already face a local affordable housing shortage?
With a vision to lead our community toward a healthy, active lifestyle and foster a sense of community through inclusive, sustainable, educational and recreational programs, the Sunset Empire Parks & Rec District - which many refer to as “the Pool” - could not ignore the opportunity that exists in the adjacent property, especially considering the rapid growth of non-aquatic programs, such as child care.
When the Parks & Rec Board of Directors began exploring opportunities created through a purchase of the Broadway building, three priorities rose to the top:
Expand indoor recreation activities for all citizens
The Park & Rec District is committed to expanding access to recreation opportunities beyond aquatics. The plan is to include activities for all ages, and to expand offerings for arts, culture, and wellness activities. Community input outcomes from the 2014 Charettes report (commissioned by SEPRD) clearly indicated more indoor, dry recreation spaces were needed, affirmed by a County Commissioner at the time.
Increase desperately needed child care, preschool, and after-school activities
Clatsop County is considered a “child care desert,” defined as a community with more than three children for every slot available at child care centers or home-based providers licensed by the state. In Seaside parents struggle to find care and experience long waitlists, especially for infants and toddlers. Emergency measures have created expanded slots for families due to COVID-19.
Contribute to local economy through a sports tourism strategy
The Pacific Basketball League not only provides opportunities for our young hoopsters to compete with teams from all over Oregon and Washington, it brings $10.8 million in tourism dollars to our area. The Board believes this model can be replicated to develop a comprehensive sports tourism strategy to bolster our local economy. Alternately, losing the BMS space would result in a loss of existing indoor recreation space, negatively impacting our local economy and reduction of established opportunities for youth recreation.
Some have a misconception the Broadway Middle School purchase would require a bond needing approval by voters. This could be due to a 2018 bond measure that sought funding for SEPRD to construct, renovate and expand their facilities by issuing a $20 million general obligation bond. That measure did not pass, but it also did not have anything to do with the current effort to purchase the BMS property.
With BMS’s lower sales price of $2.25 million, financing is possible through a loan. State policy for Special Districts requires Parks & Rec Board approval for such financing.
Negotiations are ongoing for the BMS purchase. The Parks & Rec District has made an offer, and the Seaside School District has accepted. Now the real work for the Board begins, with a 2 month due diligence period that will include building inspections, strategic planning, and fiduciary analysis.
The Parks & Rec Board has appreciated hearing from a large number of citizens regarding how the property could contribute to important priorities in our community. We encourage citizens to complete the community survey at www.surveymonkey.com/r/SEPRDBMS, and questions, suggestions, or concerns which can be submitted to www.sunsetempire.com/connect. The public is also encouraged to attend Board Public Meetings, held on the third Tuesday of every month (see www.sunsetempire.com/board).
Broadway Middle School is a landmark property in our community, and its current sale provides a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to prioritize recreation for all, accessibility to child care and after-school programming, and an energized sports-tourism economic strategy at the center of our community.
Sunset Empire Parks & Rec District Board of Directors