The Mariner Community Campus project is officially underway.
State Sen. Marko Liias, D-Mukilteo, and a lineup of project partners that included Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers gathered Monday, Oct. 29, at Mariner Library to speak of the importance of the project and the $322,000 in state funding that makes the first phase possible.
“We’re here today to launch a new set of conversations around the needs of the residents and create a new community vision,” said Sno-Isle Libraries Executive Director Jonalyn Woolf-Ivory in welcoming the partners. “I believe these conversations will lead to a new understanding of the services that are essential for the Mariner Community.”
The Mariner Community Campus project is Liias’ vision, prompted by a visit to the Mariner Library, opened by Sno-Isle Libraries in February, 2017. There have been more than 100,000 visits to the library since opening.
“After that visit, Sen. Liias invited Sno-Isle Libraries to share his vision for this growing and vibrant community,” Woolf-Ivory said.
Liias noted that he grew up in the Mariner-area community.
“There is a vibrant community here, but one that lacks the kind of community asset that brings people together,” Liias said. “When I saw the library, I thought this would be the perfect nucleus for a beautiful community institution to build a community around.
“I shared that with Jonalyn and she said, ‘That’s exactly what libraries are.’”
Liias said he approached other agencies about the idea of a community place where residents could go for a variety of services.
“No one said ‘No,’” Liias said. “This is not something we are doing to the community, we’re doing it with the community; they are telling us what they want. Thanks to my colleagues in the Legislature, we were able to find some resources to jumpstart this project.”
Sno-Isle Libraries is acting as lead for the first phase of the project and received the state funds. Board of Trustees President Marti Anamosa noted that the library district is honored to participate as a partner.
“At Sno-Isle Libraries, we believe anyone can be extraordinary as long as they have access to the information and resources they need,” Anamosa said, adding that this project “will harness the power of local ideas and community solutions.”
County Executive Somers said the project is the beginning of a center for the community.
“I know what a difference this can make in people’s lives,” Somers said. “This (project) will continue to grow and evolve.”
The Mariner area is home to more than 25,000 people, said Snohomish County Council Chair Stephanie Wright.
“That’s a city,” she said. “We need to start to thinking of these suburban areas as mini-cities and the services they need.”
Also at the event were Everett Community College President David Beyer and Edmonds Community College President Amit Singh.
“We appreciate the vision Sno-Isle Libraries has for access to information,” Beyer said, adding that the result is creating pathways for students to colleges and other resources.
Nate DuChesne, Principal at Mariner High School, echoed the remarks of Wright and Beyer.
“We do not live in a city, we live in unincorporated Snohomish County. It makes it difficult to create a community feel,” DuChesne said. “On behalf of the Mukilteo School District, we are excited to be a partner … Looking at the list of partners involved makes us proud that this is our community.”
Educating and empowering residents about their community is a key role for Washington Family and Community Engagement Trust, said founder and Board President Adie Simmons.
“(We) teach families how to become civically engaged in their communities,” Simmons said. “We have trained and graduated over 100 parents. There is a class right now at Everett Community College and their kids go to Mariner High School. We have the perfect partnership for this to take place.”
The next meeting of Mariner Community Campus partners is scheduled for Friday, Nov. 2, Liias said. The initial meeting in late August brought together 18 service providers and funders in Snohomish County that, along with Sno-Isle Libraries, included:
- Boys and Girls Clubs of Snohomish County
- Community Transit
- Economic Alliance Snohomish County
- Edmonds Community College
- Everett Community College
- Greater Foundation Snohomish County
- Leadership Snohomish County
- Mukilteo School District
- Snohomish County
- Snohomish Health District
- Snohomish STEM Network
- State of Washington
- United Way Snohomish County
- Volunteers of America Western Washington
- Washington State Family and Community Engagement Trust
- Washington State University Everett
- YMCA of Snohomish County
Liias’ vision is to create a permanent public-private partnership that would build a facility where community members could access needed services. The underlying principle, Liias said, is based on the notions of free and equal access to resources and technology, community opportunities, connection to the community and social equity.