Promising moment: New Valley YMCA breaks ground on Snoqualmie Ridge

Snoqualmie Valley YMCA Director Dave Mayer, left, laughs as Bob Gilbertson, the executive director of the YMCA of Greater Seattle, plays with a toy earthmover given to him by Snoqualmie Mayor Matt Larson. YMCA officials mixed with city and local dignitaties at a June 9 groundbreaking for the new Snoqualmie Community Center and YMCA. - Seth Truscott / Snoqualmie Valley Record
Snoqualmie Valley YMCA Director Dave Mayer, left, laughs as Bob Gilbertson, the executive director of the YMCA of Greater Seattle, plays with a toy earthmover given to him by Snoqualmie Mayor Matt Larson. YMCA officials mixed with city and local dignitaties at a June 9 groundbreaking for the new Snoqualmie Community Center and YMCA.
— image credit: Seth Truscott / Snoqualmie Valley Record

Growing up in Ohio, Chelley Patterson received her first W2 form at the local YMCA. At age 16, she got a job teaching gymnastics and tumbling to 5-year-olds.

Patterson never forgot that formative experience, and when she moved to Snoqualmie to raise her own family, she bought into the promise of a community center of Snoqualmie's own.

Ten years ago, Patterson strolled her newborn son Sam around the center of Snoqualmie Ridge, imagining the future.

"Like a lot of people, I was captivated this vision and the promise of things to come," she said. "It was something of a leap of faith."

Back then, what was to become Cascade View Elementary was a stand of cedars. The Ridge Marketplace was an empty lot. And, in a grassy field off Ridge Street, was a sign saying 'Future Community Center.'

Patterson waited a long time, through three elections and three failed bonds, to get that community center. But on Thursday, June 9, at last, she found herself gripping a shovel in a ceremonial groundbreaking for the real thing.

"I would never have imagined standing on this spot," Patterson told the crowd of more than 100 residents, officials and dignitaries that gathered under a tent by the tennis courts at Snoqualmie Ridge Community Park to mark the moment. A member of the Snoqualmie Valley YMCA's board of managers and a longtime advocate for the center, Patterson described the center as "a promise kept and a promising future... This will be a place where we can revisit our childhood memories of going to a Y or community center. And we can watch our kids' memories in the making."

The $4 million community center is expected to open in January of 2012.

Big youth

Snoqualmie Mayor Matt Larson said the center will help Snoqualmie handle a big wave of youth population. Snoqualmie has the highest percentage of youth, 35 percent, of any city in King County.

While bonds to build a center and pool failed to garner a supermajority vote in 2002, 2006 and 2008, Larson said the council "unanimously respected the will of a clear majority of residents" in voting $950,000 of reserves to fund the project. Other funding sources included $2.2 million from Ridge builders Quadrant, Murrey Franklin and Pulte, a $341,000 donation from the Snoqualmie Tribe, and a $100,000 annual commitment from the tribe's mitigation and social services fund to pay for operations, $750,000 and a land donation from the Weyerhaeuser Real Estate Development Company, and $180,000 from Puget Western.

When finished, the 12,000-square-foot center will include a teen center, gymnasium, cardio/weight room, family changing rooms with showers, multipurpose rooms and a lobby with a fireplace. The building, which will front Ridge Street, has room for expansion, such as an aquatic center, skate park and events plaza.

In a speech, Larson echoed the history of the YMCA's center at Snoqualmie Falls with its new presence at the community center. Just as the Y helped provide clear structure, rules and values to the center at the former Weyerhaeuser mill, so too would it do now in Snoqualmie, he said.

When the bonds failed, the city realized it would need a partner to make the center a reality. Councilwoman Maria Henriksen said the YMCA became the front runner, because it was able to do more than just run programs. The Y was willing to act as an emergency shelter, allow non-members access to the building, and bring its own resources and history to the table.

"We could check the box on every count," she said.

Longtime resident Gloria McNeely remembers her own children using the Snoqualmie Falls YMCA.

"If it becomes what it was," she said, "if there are even half as many different opportunities in the building, it'll be a gift to the Valley," she said.

Snoqualmie YMCA Director Dave Mayer promises that. He said the building will be a hub for activities spanning the area.

"The Y is going to give so many opportunities to teens, children, families with young children," she said.

Speaking to the assembly, he laid out a typical day of activities, with people using the facility from all ages and stages of life. For people outside Snoqualmie, the center will act as a nexus for teen activities in the great outdoors, and youth programs already existing in downtown Snoqualmie and North Bend.

"The experiences back in the '40s, '50s, '60s were something special," said Marcia Isenberger, Eastside Regional Executive for the YMCA. "We hope and plan as an organization to bring new and special experiences to the kids and families you see around here. We think we'll be able to do this for years to come."

Fees and members

YMCA staff just finished an eight-day membership drive in Snoqualmie. The organization has a goal of 1,000 membership units—a unit can be a family, a couple, or a single individual—in its first year. At present, the YMCA has about 85 children in its child care programs, 22 families enrolled in its Adventure Guide program, and about 100 families participating in summer programs.

The Snoqualmie Valley YMCA will have a three-tiered membership structure. A single adult who resides in Snoqualmie pays $43 monthly; Valley residents pays $51, and full membership in the regional YMCA of Greater Seattle pays $60. Families of two adults and two children would $71 in Snoqualmie, $84 in the Valley or $99 for the greater regional membership.

Snoqualmie Valley Teen Leadership Board member Sydney Young hopes the new center becomes a place that helps the entire community.

"I want the Y to be a place for teens to hang out, get tutoring and have a safe place to go after school," she said. "This new location has a lot of potential, so let's do the best we can to fulfill it."


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