Snoqualmie City Council revisits options for community center

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SNOQUALMIE - The Snoqualmie community center project, which failed to gain voter-approved funding in 2002, could be making a comeback.

At a special joint meeting with the city's Parks Board on Sept. 20, the City Council created a five-member subcommittee that will work to get a better idea of what kind of a community center residents would like to see. The subcommittee is made up of council members Maria Henriksen and Jeff MacNichols, and Parks Board members Brent Lutz, Geoffrey Smigun and Betty Keeton.

A community center is part of the master plan for the Snoqualmie Ridge neighborhood. The city has land at the intersection of Center Boulevard and Southeast Ridge Street (next to the site of the new elementary school) that it has set aside as a possible site for such a facility.

In 2002, the city had plans for a community center that included a pool, but a $9-million bond put before voters in November, which would have funded most of the proposed 39,500-foot facility, was overwhelmingly denied.

With that bond defeat in mind, members of the City Council and the Parks Board said they want to get a clear idea of what residents want and what the city can afford.

"We don't know how much money we have to spend until the public tells us how much we have to spend," Henriksen said.

City Parks Director Al Frank presented a memo at the meeting outlining the possible costs for building different types of community centers and how much it would cost to maintain the facilities. The estimated capital costs for building the community centers, which included those with and without pools, ranged from $5.5-$9 million.

Taking into account possible revenues from membership fees, Frank also estimated how much of the community center's operating expenditures could be recovered with fees. Those estimates ranged from 51-66 percent.

With all the numbers and design options still in the stage of conjecture, the city decided to create the community center subcommittee. One of its first tasks will be gathering more information from the city's residents, which may include a commissioned survey that would ask specific questions regarding the features of a community center and how much people would be willing to pay for them.

Although no formal timeline has been set, council members expressed interest in getting a bond for the community center on the ballot sometime next year.

The community center planning subcommittee is scheduled to give its first report to the City Council at an Oct. 11 council meeting.

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