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Latest Tollgate revamp plan slated for release

NORTH BEND - The committee charged with presenting a proposed plan for the Tollgate Farm revamp has made its choice and will make its presentation to the public later this month.

The Tollgate Master Plan Committee, along with Seattle-based consultants EDAW, have been working since October on a plan for the 48-acre central meadow of the historic property. The property was acquired by the city in 2001.

The plan, which will be presented to the public via the Internet and made available at locations around the city on March 15, is a combination of two alternatives presented during a public input session last month, said city Special Projects Coordinator Sara Barry. The proposal, to be presented to the City Council in April, is a balance of recreation and preservation, she added.

The proposed plan would include:

* A mixed-use sports field area (containing two soccer and three baseball fields) in the northwest portion of the meadow.

* A parking lot located adjacent to the sports fields on the west side.

* Leaving the central pasture portion of the property untouched.

* A trail connecting the east and west ends of the property that will traverse a path to the south of the property. It will not bisect the pasture portion of the meadow.

* A restored farmhouse on the east side of the property.

* Leaving the southeast portion of the property untouched except for the removal of blackberry bushes.

In addition to public meetings, project officials recently conducted a written survey that elicited about 200 responses.

About 75 percent of the respondents to the survey were evenly split when it came to a preference regarding recreation activities, Barry said. About half wanted the central meadow area left untouched, while the others said they'd like to see the maximum number of fields implemented.

Once the new plan is released later this month, it will be available to view on the city's Web site, at City Hall and at the North Bend library.

Although written public comments will be accepted throughout the upcoming weeks, the first public hearing for the project is scheduled for April 6. On May 18, a Tollgate Master Plan recommendation will be forwarded to the City Council for approval. At that time the council can elect to approve the plan, schedule further discussion on the issue or even make changes.

"Anything could happen when we get to council," said Barry.

No construction timeline has been established, said Barry. Currently the city is in the process of applying for grants to revamp the dilapidated farmhouse structure, with more grant requests sure to follow after approval of the plan. Barry said the projects on the property would be "phased in over the years."

Additional funding likely will be tied to if and when the four-year construction moratorium will be lifted and the revenues generated from new projects, Barry said.

* For information or to submit comments, visit the city's Web site at http://ci.north-bend.wa.-us/ or call City Hall at (425) 888-1211.

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