Tollgate comment period opens

NORTH BEND - The city will spend the next three weeks accepting input on two proposals for the 52-acre Tollgate Farm central meadow area.

Residents can find copies of the two proposals and comment forms at George's Bakery, North Bend City Hall, the North Bend branch of the King County Library System and on the city's Web site.

The central meadow of the historic Tollgate Farm was purchased by the city and King County in 2001 - the city owns 9 acres outright, with the remaining meadow property purchased as a joint effort with the county - for the purpose of preserving the area.

In October city officials, along with consultants from the Seattle branch of EDAW, a land and community planning consulting firm, hosted the first open house to gather input from residents for the future use of the central meadow portion of the property. Resident reaction at that meeting ranged from increasing the number of recreational opportunities, to preserving the entire area and not allowing any sports fields.

The two current alternatives are:

Alternative A

Western portion of the property designated as the active recreation zone and will include:

* Multi-use fields (three Little League ball fields and two regulation soccer fields)

* Parking for about 100 vehicles

* Restroom/maintenance structure to resemble farmhouse in architectural style

* Play area

* Picnic area

* Backstops are proposed for only the two most western ball fields in order to minimize obstructions within the open landscape

The central portion of the property would be preserved as open meadow to allow for continued agricultural uses such as cattle pasture and/or hay production and would include wooden or wire fences to:

* Separate pedestrians and recreation users from cattle

* Keep cattle out of sensitive stream and wetland habitats in the southeast portion of the site

The eastern portion of the property would be designated as a community gathering space and would be used for educational, interpretive, commercial agriculture and public gatherings. The restored farmhouse would anchor the "farmyard" inspired by past uses of the site. The feel of a historic farmyard would be maintained through the use of modest materials (such as gravel in place of pavers or concrete).

Uses would include:

* An orchard that would "cloak" a farm-like gravel entry road and 30 grass parking stalls

* A grass/gravel farmers market area that would double as a staging area for other events or concerns

* Garden beds

* A large, grass, gathering lawn perched slightly above the pasture

* A new barn structure would be erected or a "recycled" barn moved to the location of the one that used to grace the site

The southeastern portion of the site, which contains Ribary Creek and a forest, would be restored by removing invasive plants and improving the wildlife corridor.

Alternative B

This alternative provides for a minimal amount of active recreation facilities in order to provide for the preservation of a large portion of the central meadow's pastureland.

Passive recreation opportunities would include picnicking, nature watching and wildlife interpretation. A series of gravel trails would connect the elements of the site while providing sweeping views of the pasture and mountains.

The western portion of the site would include:

* No backstops would be erected and no dirt infields would be provided at the recreation fields (two baseball fields encompassing one soccer field)

* Parking for about 50 vehicles would be gravel

* No permanent restroom structures are proposed, although seasonal, portable structures would be provided.

About 30 acres of the central portion of the meadow would be preserved as open space.

The eastern portion of the property, on which the historic farmhouse sits, would have little to no development except for improvement to the farmyard.

Sara Barry, special projects coordinator for North Bend, said the comments will be reviewed by a city commission that will select a preferred alternative to be discussed at a joint public hearing with the City Council on April 6. No date on when the plan is expected to be approved has been set.

* For information, call City Hall at (425) 888-1211 or visit the city's Web site at

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