Northwest NEWS

March 18, 2002

Front Page

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Youth center set for completion in late June

Council names facility after former Mayor Glen Kuntz
   by Lisa Allen
   Valley View Editor
   DUVALL - The dream began in 1994. City officials, answering concerns that local kids lacked a place to safely congregate, proposed to construct a youth center.
   Money, of course, was the obstacle, so a $2 million multi-purpose bond issue was placed before voters that fall. The measure would have paid for the police department to move from their deteriorating quarters on Stella Street into City Hall. A new city administration building would be constructed on the other side of Main Street and the vacant police station would be remodeled into a place for kids to hang out.
   The bond failed. But, because the police station was in such bad shape, Mayor Glen Kuntz made the decision to move the department into the basement of City Hall, which was then used as the council chambers. The action forced the City Council to move their meetings into the Duvall Library Rose Room. And the small, frame structure on Stella Street stood vacant for the first time since it was constructed in the 1930s.
   Local officials, residents and youngsters, though, remained hopeful that someday funds would become available for the center to be completed. Over the years, volunteers continued to work on the building, cleaning and gutting the inside.
   In 1996, a group of students even ran an unofficial contest to name the facility. Out of 75 entries, "Wreck Center," submitted by Cedarcrest High School student Jennifer Witherbee, was chosen, the word "Wreck" being an acronym, standing for "Willing, Responsible, Enthusiastic, Cautious Kids."
   But continued lack of funding caused the project to stagnate for several more years.
   Then, early in 2001, the Duvall Youth Center Advisory Committee was formed to "create a vision for the ideal youth center in Duvall, to identify youth center participant guidelines, to articulate the rationale for a youth center in Duvall and to become powerful advocates for teens."
   The Advisory Committee conducted a survey of the youth of the Lower Valley to learn what they would like to see in their own facility. Using the survey, the committee came up with some guidelines for activities and rules for the center. At the same time, the city of Duvall budgeted funds for the rehabilitation of the building.
   The project was put up for bid and the contract was awarded to Briere and Associates of Renton.
   In late December, the $375,000 remodeling project began and is expected to be finished by late June, according to Connie Zimmerman, Duvall capital project manager. A $90,000 grant from Rep. Jennifer Dunn's office will help furnish the interior and buy computers.
   The City Council has named it the "Glen Kuntz Wreck Center," honoring the former mayor and incorporating the winning name from the 1996 contest.
   Transforming the building into a youth recreational facility will add another chapter to its colorful history. Originally a Christian Reformed Church, it was built in 1936 with donated labor at a cost of $2,072.91. It remained a church until 1951, when the congregation moved their focus to the church in Monroe. In 1953 the building was purchased for $2,500 by the city of Duvall for use as a fire station and council chambers. The church steeple was removed at that time. After new quarters were built for the fire department and City Council, the building was home to a preschool for a time until the city turned it into a maintenance shop. In 1985, with the hiring of the town's first police officer, it became the Duvall police station.
   Zimmerman said the structure is currently undergoing renovation of the main floor and siding is going up on the outside.
   "People can now see the primed new siding," she said. "That will be painted when the weather gets better. A nice visual aspect is the new tower, which was rebuilt."
   Although there will be no access to the tower, she said, there will be windows and a light at the top.
   "The architects went to a lot of trouble to retain the look of the old building," Zimmerman said. "That helps to keep the character of the community."
   The structure will have a new roof and an addition on the north side for restrooms and handicapped access. The former garage will be the recreation area and the old garage doors will be replaced by glass doors. Resilient rubber floors will be installed there, and a ramp will lead into the main hall (originally the church sanctuary).
   Zimmerman said the old fir floors in the main hall will be refinished, but all the electrical and heating work will be new and the rafters will be exposed and painted. There will be special acoustical treatment there and other areas, including sound baffles to reduce noise impacts.
   The main hall and rec area, totaling 1,600 square feet, are "unprogrammed" on purpose, she said.
   "The building is designed specifically with movable spaces to accommodate any possible event," she said, adding that when the building is finished, the city will be looking for an agency to operate it, such as the YMCA or Friends of Youth.