Community centers enhance housing

Oak Harbor Mayor Jim Slowik, Forest City General Manager Shannon Ramos, Whidbey Island Naval Air Station commanding officer Capt. Jay Johnston, and Naval Facilities Engineering Command Northwest executive officer Cmdr. Glenn Shephard participate in a ribbon cutting ceremony for three new community centers on the Seaplane Base. JUSTIN BURNETT / WHIDBEY CROSSWIND

The snip snip of golden scissors marked the grand opening of three new community centers on the Seaplane Base recently.

Located in the military housing developments of Maylor Point, Crescent Harbor, and Victory Terrace, the three facilities were built by Forest City Military Communities, LLC, to serve Navy families living in 1,024 single-family homes constructed or renovated over the past three years.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony with dignitaries from the Navy, Oak Harbor government, and Forest City was held March 8 at the Victory Terrace site to officially open the doors for all three community centers.

Capt. Jay Johnston, the commanding officer of Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, was among those in attendance. He complimented Forest City, a major military housing contractor for the Navy, on a job well done.

“It’s mind boggling to see what’s been accomplished,” Johnston said.

The Navy is engaged in an ongoing effort to update its on-base family housing and amenities through a program dubbed the Public-Private Venture. Forest City is the development and management firm hired to get the job done.

Forest City began work on the community centers in 2009. The Maylor Point and Crescent Harbor facilities – both about 4,400 square feet – will serve as satellites for the much larger, and more lavish,  Victory Terrace center.

At 16,200 square feet, it boasts a full-size gym and indoor basketball court, a stadium style movie theater, a study with overstuffed leather chairs for reading, a multipurpose room, a pool room complete with large flat-screen television, a child play room, and a kitchen with  commercial grade appliances.

But it’s the center’s location at the top of a hill overlooking Oak Harbor bay and Crescent Harbor that seemed to impress the most.

“I would challenge the other community centers with this view,” Oak  Harbor Mayor Jim Slowik said.

John Ehle, a senior vice president with Forest City, seemed equally impressed.

He said his job takes him all over the country and that the Victory Terrace facility is without a doubt one of the company’s crowning achievements.
“I have to say this has become a jewel of our portfolio,” Ehle said.

About 20 percent of the military families at NAS Whidbey Island live in public-private venture housing.

The three community centers will be available for their use but are closed to the general public.