Left: A Community Center function 10 years ago using the original platform.
Right: The remaining stalwart spirea plant.
From raw land to a rich community resource, the Lopez Community Center Association has guided the development of prime land along Village Road for the past twenty-two years. The lone witness to this evolution is a lovely spirea plant nestled next to the east side of the outdoor pavilion, the first structure erected on the five acres donated by Natalie Roush.
“I planted three spirea, but this is the only one surviving today,” Ann Palmer said, who was part of the team that erected a plywood platform before the pavilion was built. “We added a PVC pipe arch to make it more like a performance stage. The Emerald City Brass Quintet was the first to perform there.”
Chuck McCarty lead the first LCCA fund raising effort to replace the platform with a pavilion in 1988. Wearing a plaid jacket, wide tie and white patent leather shoes, “Honest Chuck” sold balloons and goat-shaped cornbread cookies in the July 4th parade.
“One year the balloons had an outline of Lopez Island on them and were touted as ‘inflated real estate,’” said Chuck. “Another year the balloons had animal shapes and were advertised as ‘inflatable farm animals.’ Each year we managed to offend a few people, but we raised money and had fun.”
Fun and funds have gone hand-in-hand to develop the property. Our community donated labor, materials and dollars to the construction of this first permanent structure on the property, a theme that continued with the building of Lopez Center for Community and the Arts, the skate board park, the Fertile Ground Community Garden, and the Children’s Center which is home to the Lopez Island Family Resource Center, the Cooperative Preschool, a day care center and the Lopez Fresh food bank.
What Jean Weinheimer, board chair during the construction phase of the Center, is most proud of is that the Center opened ten years ago without any debt. In fact, it had three years of operating money and the beginnings of an endowment in the bank.
Shortly after Jean watched Andy Holland and Natalie Roush cut the ribbon opening the Center’s doors to a week of events and activities, the challenge of accepting and managing the donated property from Sally Bill came before the LCCA board. She had envisioned a perpetual greenbelt in the heart of the village which was rapidly growing and changing.
“Working together, LCCA’s board and Sally’s representatives managed to devise the arrangement that now exists that allows the multitude of uses under the Center’s umbrella but with separate management,” Weinheimer said.
Jamie Stephens, another former LCCA board member said, “Through a combination of generosity, vision and luck the LCCA provides the Lopez community with several acres of green space in the middle of the village for gatherings of all sorts. This space entertains us, welcomes our youngest, celebrates our diversity and acknowledges Lopez’s agricultural roots.”
One of the major projects on the additional land was the construction of the Children’s Center, which in itself has become multi-use without losing its initial thrust.
“I clearly remember coming to the LCCA board with our request to locate the children’s center in the heart of the village,” said Kiki Martin, chair of this effort. “Our board felt it was so important to have children providing a real heart beat of hope and inspiration for the future of our island community. I can’t wait to see little ones visiting LOHO (the Senior housing project across the street) and vice versa.”
The rich community resource of Lopez Center and everything on its grounds continue to draw us together, challenging volunteers and staff to plan wisely for the future growth of these LCCA assets. Perhaps, as LCCA celebrates this tenth anniversary of Lopez Center, a community volunteer will plant another long lasting spirea on the property.