A recent event occurred in Washington that hasn’t received much recognition—but deserves it. On April 4, the City of Washington celebrated the kick-off campaign of the Washington Area Community Center (WACC). WACC will be a beautiful, state-of-the-art community center that will include such components as a new public library; two gymnasiums; aquatic, wellness, therapeutic, senior, and youth centers; banquet and meeting rooms; and a 1,200-seat performing arts auditorium.
The multi-faceted facility will be located near Highway 24 on North Wilmore Road, which is close to the heart of the city and two of its schools. Groundbreaking is scheduled for fall, with a completion date of early 2005.
What’s unique and deserving of attention is the course WACC has taken to actualize its campaign motto, “From Vision to Reality.” The current economy makes it very difficult to rely upon four or five major donors to achieve the necessary financial base for such an ambitious venture. Therefore, the community decided the formation of a five-entity community consortium was the best mechanism to go from vision to reality.
The Washington District Library, Washington Community High School, Washington Park District, and the City of Washington joined together with WACC in a collaborative effort to develop this visionary concept. On April 3, a joint signing ceremony took place at the high school, where board members from each of the five entities signed the intergovernmental agreement for the construction of the community center. It was an unprecedented moment of cooperation and achievement in the history of Washington.
The collaboration for the 1,200-seat performing arts auditorium is an outstanding example of how a multi-entity endeavor can benefit organizations and the community simultaneously. Typically, municipal/governmental units aren’t inclined to collaborate with one another. Instead of insisting the high school have its own performing arts auditorium, the high school board agreed to coordinate with other community organizations. As a result, the performing arts auditorium will be larger, have greater support, and can be utilized by outside artist groups for the benefit of both students and the community.
Leaders of the five entities deserve special recognition and tremendous credit for realizing more could be done together than independently. Leaders include: Mayor Gary Manier, City of Washington; Kevin O’Brien, Washington District Library; Bryan Lammers, Washington Park District; Jeff Taylor, Washington Community High School; and Pat Essig, Washington Area Community Center.
The boards of each entity can honestly say they looked out for what was best for the community and created a scenario for every entity involved. Washington is proud to be a role model for other cities to emulate because of this collaborative effort.
I’d also like to recognize WACC Executive Director Vickie Lannie, whose tireless energy and extraordinary efforts are making a positive impact for the citizens of Washington.
Like many things, we tend to look at areas outside the state for role models. Sometimes, however, the best is right under our noses. IBI