I firmly believe that public schools and school facilities are public assets. They belong to our community. The new Mount Si High School, $200-plus million, is paid for almost entirely by our property taxes. So are the costs of maintaining school district grounds and buildings. Regrettably this attitude, that district assets are community assets, is too rarely reflected in the behavior of Snoqualmie Valley School District leadership.
As one example, an exciting new pump-track bike park is being dedicated on June 1 in North Bend, adjacent North Bend Elementary School. It is already teaming with youth and community members. Many parties continue to seek cooperation from the school district. They want egress across 30 feet of district land connecting Torguson Park to the QFC, Subway and other local businesses.
Yet as the Bike Park opens, the school district fence remains, covered in years-old blackberries surrounding invasive knotweed, with a sign reading “CLIMBING FENCE PROHIBITED – NO TRESSPASSING.” Rather than partnering, the district paid $2,400 for an appraisal of 1,525 square feet of land, which summarized that somebody should pay the district $20,000 fee simple, or $19,000 for just the easement, assuming “Downtown Commercial” zoning. It is currently zoned Parks/Open Space or Public Facilities, like a trail. Just take down your fence, please. What a great opportunity to unify our parks and schools.
As the district searches for a new superintendent, I encourage them to prioritize working cooperatively with the community and partnering with park districts, cities and nonprofits like the “Y” to benefit our entire community. Allowing the removal of some not-maintained fence would be a good start.