By Steve Guntli
It’s been a long and bumpy process, but the new pavilion at the Blaine community center at 763 G Street will finally get its grand opening next week.
The opening takes place on Thursday, February 18 at 5:30 p.m. The public is invited to attend the opening, and refreshments will be provided.
The pavilion is a 5,000-square-foot annex to the community center. The enclosed area will allow various clubs and organizations to hold classes and activities year-round, regardless of weather conditions. Blaine-Birch Bay Park and Recreation District 2 (BBBPRD2), the Blaine Boys & Girls Club and the Blaine Senior Center will all host programs out of the facility.
The project has been in the works for more than four years, with city and county leaders officially breaking ground on the facility last June. The city of Blaine funded $165,000 of the project, which also received donations from NBA player Luke Ridnour, the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation, the Whatcom Community Foundation and BBBPRD2. Originally conceived as an open-air facility, the pavilion designers modified it into a closed space after an influx in donations from Ridnour and the Ripken Foundation.
Mauri Ingram, president and CEO of the Whatcom Community Foundation, gives a lot of credit for the pavilion project to local philanthropist Mel Hollinger, who passed away in September at the age of 99. Hollinger was the first donor to the pavilion project and co-chaired the steering committee with local realtor Mike Kent.
“Mel saw the potential of the pavilion,” Ingram said. “He envisioned a wonderful new space that would be enjoyed by Blaine residents of all ages. He wanted to give something back to a place that had been such a wonderful home.”