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Tribe backs out of Fall City park deal

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FALL CITY - After negotiating with the county for the past year about taking over the Fall City Park, the Snoqualmie Tribe has backed out of talks concerning the land.

King County was contacted by the Tribe last week and was told it was no longer interested in pursuing the 27-acre park that is located off State Route 203 on the north bank of the Snoqualmie River.

The Tribe had contacted the county expressing interest in taking over the land, which is the historical site of a Snoqualmie Tribe village. Being in a budget crunch, the county was interested in unloading some of its parks to municipalities. The Tribe also inquired about Tolt-MacDonald Park outside of Carnation, another historical site for the Tribe, but the county wanted to hold onto it.

A deal was in the works but talks stalled over the issue of a historic hop shed on the property, which is protected as a King County landmark, that the Tribe was reluctant to spend money maintaining.

Fall City residents started to raise concerns over the future of the park as well, wondering if they could lose use of the park should the land ever be made into Tribal Trust land.

Snoqualmie Tribal Administrator Matt Mattson said that the Tribe never intended to take anything away from the park and only hoped to make it better. Even if the Tribe wanted to curb use of the park, it couldn't, Mattson said, since the park was purchased with public funds to be used as public land. He said the Tribe never considered putting a casino on the property and the only thing it was interested in adding was a long house.

Mattson said the Tribe would be willing to talk with the community about its hopes for the park, but it is not interested in any deal that merely allows it to be administrators of land it believes should belong to the Tribe.

"We did this to regain our rightful position as stewards of that land," Mattson said.

Brooke Bascom, a spokesperson for the King County Parks and Recreation Division, said that even though the Tribe is no longer interested in taking over the Fall City Park, the county has money to run the park and it will stay open.

"We really appreciated their [the Tribe] interest," Bascom said.

Ben Cape can be reached at (425) 888-2311 or by e-mail at ben.cape@valleyrecord.com.

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