Originally Published by the Union-Bulletin
January 27, 2018
Current Building, Winter 2019
Rendering of Future Remodel, Winter 2020
Blue Mountain Action Council, the community action partnership whose gamut of services has helped oversee construction of housing for low-income seniors, the disabled, homeless veterans and the Teen Center, will focus this year on plans for a permanent spot of its own.
The organization has announced a nearly $3.7 million undertaking that will redevelop a Second Avenue office complex to position the operation at the gateway to downtown Walla Walla.
“It is time,” BMAC CEO Kathy Covey told the Union-Bulletin. “For over a half-century we have been in the business of helping our neighbors put a roof over their heads, food on their tables, train for jobs to support their families, and find emergency help when things turn upside down. We must now do the same for our staff who work on our community’s behalf.”
The agency has acquired the 11,000-square-foot complex in the 200 block of North Second Avenue, currently home to Nielson Eye Care and an Edward Jones financial advisor office. Those businesses will relocate. Covey said.
A massive overhaul of the property will include a reconfiguration that opens the interior and moves the main entrance to what is now the back of the building. Ample parking is already available, Covey said.
The change will move the BMAC Community Service Center from its current spot owned by Walla Walla County at 1520 Kelly Place. That building, across from Fort Walla Walla Park, is expected to be sold in three to four years. Food distribution services, another major arm of BMAC’s client services, will continue at the Food Bank at 921 Cherry St. The Housing Services Division, which also shares that address, will continue in that spot, too.
Covey said transition will be the realization of a longtime vision for the organization. In its almost 53-year history, the operation has had seven different locations.
Covey said the active search over the last 15 years for a permanent home has been postponed at times so the agency can focus on fundraising and construction of other projects that support its mission.
Most recently that includes fundraising for and construction of The Hub teen center. Located at 534 S. Third Ave., the center brings the teen-focused services from Children’s Home Society and The Health Center to one location. It also includes The Loft, a homeless shelter for teens, plus Early Childhood Head Start and youth job training.
Reconfiguring the new space will require a major fundraising initiative. BMAC will raise $500,000 from local donors for the endeavor. More than $100,000 of that goal has already been met, Covey said.
Funding for the project is multifaceted. BMAC acquired the property with a $1.4 million loan, said CFO Rick Claridge. About $750,000 from a Department of Commerce grant is highly anticipated for the project, as is a $1 million allocation from the Legislature.
Administrators are confident funding resources will provide for the needs of the renovations. The agency must give six months notice at its current location and will do so in anticipation of the move