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Downtown Snoqualmie master plan taking shape

A dramatic new vision for Snoqualmie's historic district is taking shape, complete with a river boardwalk, pedestrian-oriented downtown shopping district and the possibility of one of the biggest farmers markets in the state.

Urban planning consultant Tom Beckwith laid out the latest full-color drawings of a new downtown on Tuesday evening, March 11, at the fourth master planning workshop, held at a Snoqualmie Tribe building downtown.

"We're getting much closer to what we think is the final scheme," Beckwith told a gathering of residents, business owners and city officials. Armed with the new vision, the next step is implementation, working with the Snoqualmie Planning Commission and Economic Development Committee.


Roads and sidewalks

Currently, visitors to downtown park in 60-degree-angle stalls on the south side of Railroad Avenue, and parallel on the north side. Snoqualmie's new downtown plan would change that to 45-degree stalls on both sides of the street where possible, with parallel parking alongside the big downtown memorial trees.

Forty-five degree stalls require only 18 feet of space, rather than 20 for 60-degree stalls, and drivers would have a better sight line for backing into traffic.

The new plan also allows for 12-foot sidewalks on the retail side of the street, 11-and-a-half-foot travel lanes, and a ten-foot walkway on the railroad side of the street.

At intersections, the road would narrow,

"We want to extend the curb as much as possible so pedestrians are only walking across the moving lanes," Beckwith said. Here, canopy trees would be planted to narrow the visual corridor.

"It's an alerting system for drivers that that's a place where people are going to be," Beckwith said.

Railroad Avenue and Falls Avenue would include other sections where the road would narrow, both to break the monotony of long rows of parking cars and to allow for places for deliveries, garbage pickup, signs and street lights.

"We don't want huge expanses of angled parking, because it's visually ugly," Beckwith said. "At these points, we go to the canopy trees, because visually, you'll see the street narrow. In those areas would be the pedestrian signs, parking signs. It'd be very, very visible."


Trails and public areas

Beckwith also discussed the possibility of connecting downtown with other venues by pedestrian trail. The city, he said, should put a bridge over the Snoqualmie River to bring pedestrians to the old lumber mill pond, or connect to Snoqualmie Falls and Fall City.

"You want to showcase the mill pond," he said. "You want these attractions. These are really dynamite visual and historic attractions."

King Street would become the unifying corridor of the downtown district, connecting to the Snoqualmie River and a natural arena at Sandy Cove Park. A river walk would link future retail buildings and restaurants that Beckwith has located on the riverside between King Street and River Street.

"What you are trying to do is develop as far as you feasibly can toward the river," he said. New businesses should have displays around the building, a single business entrance at the side and a single cashier.

Between the street and the river walk, "we want to increase the number of passageways as much as we can." To increase parking for the riverfront area, Beckwith proposed a parking court to connect the Snoqualmie brewery parking lot with the alley behind MK Properties.

Above Sandy Cove, where the King Street lot is now, Beckwith has proposed businesses facing the highway and a glass-roofed public market area facing the river.

"We want it as porous as possible, glass roof, no sides," Beckwith said of the structure. King Street would become the venue for community festivals, with room for dozens of vendor stalls. Beckwith said King Street has four times the space capacity of the King Street lot, with the benefit that the city wouldn't have to sacrifice parking for events.

Beckwith also recommends a makeover for the Northwest Railway Museum. Instead of a meandering park, he envisions a more linear place, with lots of horizontal lines, sharp angles, straight paths and formal gardens, with a glass-roofed waiting station and space for farmers market stalls.


Espresso stand

North Bend resident Judy Hallamore asked Beckwith where her business, Coffee Espresso, was supposed to move. Under the plan, it has been replaced by a driveway into the King Street parking area.

"What location would you suggest?" Hallamore asked.

"Between the gas station and Newton Street would work," Beckwith said. "You need to be in a location where you can get in and out.

"You can see where this is going - pedestrian and parking on the street," he added, pointing to the King Street lot. "If it starts to develop and intensify more pedestrian-wise, it's going to be harder for you to have that same kind of access."


Traffic light

"You're dealing with a state highway that runs right through town," said Snoqualmie resident Duane Johnson. "What does the state say about changing the parking and what you're proposing to do with the highway?"

Beckwith said that the state highway department has loosened its standards on what small towns can do with their highways.

"They call it context-sensitive design," he said. "We think this will meet those requirements."

Johnson also questioned how the city can put buildings so close to the Snoqualmie River.

"How do we build anything in a floodway?" he asked.

Beckwith answered that there could be some give-and-take with regard to floodway negotiations with FEMA and regarding shoreline setbacks.

Questioned by resident Dick Kirby about a River Street traffic signal, Beckwith recommended that the city put a traffic signal at Newton Street instead.

"River doesn't have as viable a connection as Newton will," he said.

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