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Community parking area planned for North Bend
NORTH BEND For commuters who ride the bus, the days of
driving to another town's Park and Ride could be coming to an end.
A community parking area is being planned for North Bend and
will be located between Orchard Street and Cedar Falls Way, near the Si
View neighborhood. The area would serve as a Park and Ride for weekday
commuters and as evening and weekend parking for Si View Park users.
The 150-stall lot would also provide overflow parking from Torguson Park
and pedestrian access to downtown from adjoining Tanner Trail.
"The location was also chosen because it will be a very central
location as the city grows," said Michele Finnegan, city of North Bend
The project is still in its early stages and is a collaboration of
North Bend, the King County Transportation and Parks departments, and the
Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT). Each agency
has contributed to the project's funding, along with federal grant money.
The parking area will cost $900,000, with North Bend contributing $60,000
to the total.
The idea for a community parking area existed for a long time in
North Bend's history.
Years ago, a Park and Ride was planned for the town, but the
library ended up on the proposed lot instead.
The North Bend Comprehensive Plan encouraged cooperation with
the WSDOT to establish a Park and Ride lot in the southeast quadrant of
the South Fork interchange, but it was determined that there was
insufficient acreage and the land was too costly
at that location.
As for the current site near the Si View neighborhood, the WSDOT
has owned the property since the early 1970s, when Interstate 90 was
supposed to run through town. When the highway's current location was
decided, the department kept the land for a future Park and Ride. The
five-acre site is partially owned by the city of North Bend.
With nearby Park and Ride lots at Issaquah and Eastgate nearly full,
and barely enough parking for the county's Si View Park, the city decided the
time is right to construct the community lot.
The city originally wanted to establish an express bus service;
however, that idea could take quite a while because funding was cut with the
passing of Initiative 695 last year. But the lot is slated as multi-use, so the
plan will go forward without express bus service.
The parking project was passed as a resolution in February and is now
in the preliminary planning stages. Two weeks ago, city officials
received mixed reactions when they presented the parking plan at an open house.
Many Si View residents were outraged at the parking lot's location
and lack of alternate choices. In reaction to the project, they formed a task
force and have e-mailed city officials stating their points of opposition.
"Who wants a Park and Ride in their back yard?" asked resident
David Warwick. "Most of the Park and Rides are near the highway, but this will
be in the middle of North Bend and it will cause congestion."
Besides traffic problems, the group listed many concerns about the
project including increased crime, noise and pollution, bright lights,
environmental impacts, their children's safety and a possible decrease in property values.
Warwick said Si View homebuilders told residents that the
lot would not be developed.
"People would have never moved in here if they would have known,"
Task force members were also unhappy with the open house
presentation. In several heated letters to the mayor and councilmembers,
residents said the meeting was unorganized and officials didn't provide enough
information about the project.
Mayor Joan Simpson and all but one councilmember, Mark
Sollitto, were absent from the meeting.
City Administrator Phil Messina said that it was "not appropriate"
for the council to attend because the project will require a conditional
use permit and is a "quasi-judicial"
issue, meaning the mayor and councilmembers are only allowed
to take comments during city council meetings.
"[The open house] was meant to be informative," Messina said,
explaining that this is the beginning of the public process, and there is no
official project yet. A comment period will be held later and announced
ahead of time.
The project is not a "done deal," Finnegan said. The project must
follow certain steps to gain approval. First, a staff report will be
submitted by the council to North Bend's planning commission.
"Currently, the information gathering and planning stages
continue; and therefore no proposals or recommendations have been forwarded
to the planning commission or the council for consideration [yet]," she
said. "The staff are now developing the information necessary to apply for
the Conditional Use Permit and Master Site Plan, such as background
reports on drainage and traffic."
After they receive and review the proposal, the commission will
hold public hearings and make changes as necessary, then submit a final
report to the city council.
But the project could change and there is no guarantee of approval.
The process for this project, as with most projects, takes months and
sometimes years to complete.
"This has been in the project list for over three years. It's just been
going very slowly because of working with different agencies, and we
are getting close to a decision now that funding and agencies are coming
together," he said.
"We wanted the community to know when we started to work on
it," Finnegan added. "We don't have all of the answers yet."
From here, the plan will move into the conceptual design stage.
Three design options have been created and the city needs to select one before
applying for permits, Finnegan said.
"We want to calm the [residents'] fears," Finnegan said, explaining
that she is glad that people are interested in taking part in the public
process. "It will be a community amenity and there are ways to design it that
would not take away from the neighborhood."
A tentative schedule lists that the project's applications will be
completed by the end of summer, with construction beginning sometime
For more information, go to the city's Web site at www.nbwa.net.