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Falls Crossing future ownership undecided
SNOQUALMIE _ As the Falls Crossing proposal and debate
continues to make its way through the Snoqualmie Planning Commission
for the second time, new questions are being raised about future
ownership of the 182-acre site if the controversial village retail application sought
by developer Puget Western is denied.
According to several sources, the Snoqualmie Tribe has engaged in
initial discussion to purchase the site. As strong, vocal opponents of the
development, which borders on the Traditional Cultural Property grounds
considered sacred by the Tribe, exploratory talks and sources for
financial backing are cautiously continuing.
"Any decision would be made by a much larger group than ours,"
said Puget Western President Bob Boyd. "From our perspective, we get a lot
of interest and inquiries into purchasing the property, and the Tribe is just
one of them.
"We think our project will be approved," Boyd continued. "Any
party expressing an interest would not be considered until after the
conceptual plan is approved. We have discouraged all parties until a decision is made,
and only then could discussions be more meaningful."
Boyd declined to name any of the other groups or individuals seeking
to purchase the property, but did confirm that he had one initial meeting
with tribal representatives and a potential financial backer.
Snoqualmie Tribal Chairman Joseph Mullen acknowledged that
they are interested in purchasing the site. When asked if the Tribe would
follow in the footsteps of the Muckleshoot and others by developing the
property themselves as a resort or casino destination, Mullen responded quickly
"Absolutely not," Mullen stated. "There is no possibility, not
ever." Mullen said tribal members had discussed the possibility of a
conference center on the east side of the new bypass, but there is no firm plan for
even that limited use.
"When Snoqualmie Ridge was developed, remains were dug up
and hauled off," Mullen said. "The truck drivers were told not to talk about
it. We weren't yet recognized as a tribe and there was nothing we could do
to stop it. We have to try to protect this area."
Throughout the public hearing process, tribal representatives
have maintained that the site should not be disturbed. Along with their
historical connection to the property, they believe further development would
adversely impact the almost 2 million visitors the Falls bring to
Snoqualmie each year.
If the property does go up for sale, Mullen said they are prepared to
purchase the land. "We have people who will put up the money to buy the
property," he said, "so we can keep it in
its natural state."