Tollgate Farm price tag may be slashed

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NORTH BEND - The city may not have to pay as much as it thought it would for Tollgate Farm.

North Bend Special Project Coordinator Sara Barry explained to the City Council at its Tuesday, Feb. 19, meeting that the Parks Department will apply for a state grant to bear the brunt of the farm purchase price.

"When we purchased Tollgate, we said we would look for other revenues to help pay for it, and this one came up," Barry said.

Barry will apply for the grant from the Interagency Committee on Outdoor Recreation (IAC), a state agency started in 1964 that helps counties and municipalities purchase land for public use.

The application for the grant, which is due May 1, must include a parks plan from the city, which, Barry said, she is working on since the city does not have a current plan to submit.

Just how much the city would get, if approved, is uncertain, but Barry said she will ask for $1.5 million. A full awarding of the grant would cover a majority of the $1.6 million in councilmanic bonds the council approved issuing for the purchase of the farm last year.

The city has had success with the IAC in the past, getting the agency to pitch in $500,000 to help purchase the Meadowbrook Farm between North Bend and Snoqualmie.

Although the city has had success obtaining grants, this one will not be easy to come by. IAC Project Manager Darrell Jennings said North Bend will be competing with all kinds of projects from all over the state for money that has to be approved by the Legislature.

Once a project goes through the application process, it is given a rating and ranked. When the IAC receives its funding from the state Legislature, it doles out the money according to the ranking of the projects and works its way down until it runs out of money.

"We have a very competitive process," Jennings said. "It's hard to get."

The city should find out if it will get the money by September of this year.

Barry also said North Bend hopes to do some emergency repairs to the farm house that sits on the Tollgate property. Some of the roof supports of the dilapidated house, which is estimated to be about 100 years old, have been rotting away. Barry said the repairs are needed so the house does not go the way of the old barn that used to sit on the grounds, which collapsed in March 2000.

Repairs for the house could run up to $23,000 and Barry said she will seek grants from the King County Landmarks and Heritage Commission to pay for them. In order to earn a grant from the commission, the Tollgate house must be designated as a landmark. Barry will give a presentation in April to the commission in Fall City in hopes of designating the house as a landmark.

"I can't speak for North Bend since I haven't seen the application yet," said King County Landmark Program Coordinator Kate Krafft. "But across the country, we have accepted the fact that preserving part of the past is essential in retaining the character of our communities."

Barry said she would eventually like to see the farm house become functional again.

"The master plan for Tollgate will ultimately determine what the long-term use of the house will be," she said. "But I hope we can have some restoration of it so it can have some kind of community use."

Barry said extra effort will be needed to secure any money for Tollgate Farm. With massive budget deficits reported by the state and county, any future funding will have to be gained with an added amount of zeal and determination.

"They are running tight, but we'll just have to keep our fingers crossed," she said.

You can reach Ben Cape at (425) 888-2311, or e-mail him at ben.cape@

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