Ten years ago, the Mountlake Terrace Senior Community Center was launched, finding a home at Ballinger Park’s Mickey Corso Clubhouse, owned by the City of Mountlake Terrace. Like many small businesses and nonprofits, however, the center struggled during the pandemic, and its doors were closed for more than two years.
While a commendable effort was made to keep the curbside lunch and groceries program going for three years, serving up to 100 families, other programs and rentals declined. The downturn in revenue placed additional strain on the organization.
Now, thanks to a partnership with the Edmonds Waterfront Center/Edmonds Senior Center, the Mountlake Terrace facility is being revitalized. Senior lunches are back, offered three days a week for $4 to anyone 60 and over. New programs have been introduced, including card games and dancing.
The facility, located at 23000 Lakeview Drive, also has a new name — the Lake Ballinger Center — reflecting its desire to serve all community members regardless of age, said Executive Director Elizabeth Zeller.
“People are realizing we are back and open for business,” said Zeller, a Mountlake Terrace resident who has led the center since 2020.
Edmonds Waterfront Center CEO Daniel Johnson noted that his organization has a long partnership with the Mountlake Terrace Community Senior Center (MLTCSC). The Mountlake Terrace facility served as a primary program site for Edmonds-based programs while the new waterfront center was being constructed on the former Edmonds Senior Center site.
“We are committed to assisting in the effort to move the MLTCSC from surviving to thriving,” Johnson said. “We have established a board task force to investigate the best strategies to do so.”
Progress can already be seen at the Lake Ballinger Center. In the past month, the Edmonds Waterfront Center moved three large programs from Edmonds to Mountlake Terrace: duplicate bridge (45 people), line dancing (30 participants) and ballroom dancing — with live music — every Friday from 1-4 p.m., drawing 20 to 40 participants.
Zeller encourages those who have ideas for other programming to email the center at email@example.com or call 425-672-2407.
A team of staff and volunteers from the Edmonds Waterfront Center have been pitching in to help support the growing programs, Johnson said. A new contract has been negotiated with Homage Senior Services, which provides the senior lunches. A chef was hired and volunteers recruited to provide a senior lunch at noon Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays.
While a number of people let their center memberships lapse during the pandemic, Zeller said those are picking up again. Membership costs $35 annually for an individual, $50 a year for a couple and $65 a year for families of all ages. Learn more about membership here.
In addition to providing senior lunches, the center offers a Snack Shack — open weekdays 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. — for those who want to grab a cup of coffee or a pastry and sit on the deck overlooking Ballinger Park, Zeller said. There are child-friendly treats for parents with kids in tow, she added.
The center is also available for weekend rentals, and offers flexibility for those who want to bring in their own food — no in-house caterer required, she added. The Tibet Language and Cultural School meets at the center on Sundays and was thrilled to be able to offer Tibetan food during its New Year’s celebration, Zeller said.
Top priorities for the Lake Ballinger Center this year include expanding program offerings, increasing membership and recruiting board members. The center will also be renegotiating the terms of its lease — up for renewal — with the City of Mountlake Terrace.
The Edmonds Waterfront Center will continue to provide help along the way, Johnson said. “We are enthusiastic about the partnership and optimizing the community impact of this extraordinary site for the people of Mountlake Terrace,” he said.
— By Teresa Wippel