Mobility is an essential human need, no more or less vital to our existence than clean and safe air, water and food, as well as public safety and security. As such, mobility is a quality of life issue, and for those unable to provide their own mobility due to health, age, economic or other conditions, public transit can bridge the gap. Likewise, to ensure the well-being and future of our society, we have chosen to provide space for social programs to assist our community citizens in need. Often, those requiring human services rely on transit to get them there. The Transit-Community Center project efficiently and effectively integrates the delivery of transit and community services through transforming the 1950’s-era Washington National Guard Armory building in Shelton, Mason County, Washington into a regional multi-modal, inter-generational transit-community resource center.
The vision for a Transit-Community Center (T-CC) began when a group of motivated community members asked MTA to purchase the Armory. The National Guard had listed it as surplus and put it up for sale. At the time, the facility was being leased to a non-profit group called Save Our County’s Kids (SOCK) and they operated youth programs in the facility. In 2006 MTA purchased the Armory, began seeking public input on how to re-purpose the facility, and sought grants to conduct a feasibility study. As public input was received, a vision began forming. The final result was an innovative, one-of-a-kind, vision which was to re-purpose the facility into a Transit-Community Center that moved mobility management to the next level through co-locating and seamlessly integrating public transit and human/social service programs.
The vision was finalized after a feasibility study and public input showed support for re-purposing the facility. The T-CC would provide a variety of multi-modal transit services including a waiting area, public restrooms, regional transportation information, lost and found, bus pass sales and other customer services, as well as hosting community agencies, programs and services that benefit all ages within the community. It would also provide citizens with information about the advantages of using transit to reduce pollution and enhance the environment. MTA worked with the public to assure the design of the facility would enable access for all community members to program activities. This transit-oriented development additionally became part of a plan to improve livability in this region. Tenant lease revenue from public human service agencies, private sector participants, and event rentals at the facility would be used to cover operating and maintenance expenses. According to former Federal Transportation Administrator, Peter Rogoff, this project is the first of it’s kind in the nation.
Belief in the value of this project led to the commitment of a significant investment from our communities, especially Federal funding. Funding sources for the project were comprised of 48% Federal funding, 10% State funding, and 42% from local funds and sales of donor pavers (local funds are provided to MTA, as a Public Transportation Benefit Area, through local sales tax at 6/10 of a percent). The project total was about $9.9 million. This does not include furnishings, which were donated by a furniture business out of Tacoma, WA. Approximately $5.8 million in Federal and State taxes were brought back to the citizens of Mason County, WA through the various grants and legislative asks. MTA did not accrue any new debt to complete the project.
THE PUBLIC BENEFIT
The Transit-Community Center provided employment opportunities for the duration of the construction phase and has left a valuable asset to the citizens of Mason County. This project enhances local efforts to coordinate community transportation resources and reduce the duplication of trips through consolidating destinations to a variety of social programs. The T-CC supports more of these resources as well as micro-businesses and job training in addition to contributing to economic development and tourism opportunities in the region.
THE RENOVATED FACILITY
The T-CC creates a link between multi-modal transportation (bus, cycling, and walking). The facility features a gym, commercial double teaching kitchen, a computer lab, public restrooms, a waiting area, transit and informational customer service lobby, program/office and retail space. It provides a centralized location where people of all ages can come to meet, receive services, recreate, learn and socialize, making their connections through public transit, housing activities that include:
- Community and Transit information
- Technology training
- Public gatherings, classes and meetings
- Youth and senior programs
- Indoor athletics and other active programs
- Social and human services agency offices
- Private business enterprise
- Disaster relief shelter
THE TRANSIT-COMMUNITY CENTER
The T-CC opened on April 1, 2015 with over 450 Washingtonians attending the Rededication Ceremony, including the State Governor. The event was joyous in it’s celebration of Mason Transit Authority’s innovation and it’s role in improving the quality of life in Mason County. As the first project of its kind in the Nation, it’s something all citizens of Mason County can be proud of.
601 W. Franklin St.
Shelton, WA 98584