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City nears deal on sewage-wrecked youth center

More than a year after raw sewage rendered the Snoqualmie Valley Youth Activity Center unusable, the city of North Bend and youth center directors are close to approving an agreement aimed at giving local Scouts a new meeting place.

In March of 2008, a sewage leak from a nearby treatment center flooded the building, located at 356 Bendigo Blvd. N. The accident forced the local Boy Scout troops who regularly meet at the center to find new venues.

However, Dale Grandlic, president of the youth center board of directors, saw the disaster as a potential opportunity for his organization as well as the city.

It had already become apparent that the Boy and Girl Scout troops were outgrowing the building.

Grandlic said the city was interested in acquiring it, intending to expand the adjacent sewage plant.

Since the accident, Scouts have pursued more outdoor activities, such as hiking, said Doug McClelland, leader for Scout Troop 2466. The city also allowed Scout groups to use the North Bend Depot as a meeting place.

The city reimbursed the association for personal property damaged in the accident. Now, negotiations between the YAC and the city are in the works for purchase of the building. Tentative plans call for North Bend to make a $225,000 downpayment for the property, then hire an appraiser to determine market value. The city would then pay the difference.

"We hope that both parties will agree that that market value is fair and then we can close the deal," Grandlic said.

With no prospects yet for a new facility, Grandlic said the YAC board is meeting to determine next steps. A lot depends on the final amount.

"We don't even know what, at the end of the day, this deal will put in the bank," he said. "We don't know what it is we have to work with."

In the meantime, YAC leaders seek a vision for what their new facility should look like.

"The one that we had was a great facility in its day," Grandlic said. "When that was built, the youth groups that used it typically had around 20 kids in a group. Some of the troops now have been as large as 80 kids," Grandlic said.

New visions will need to take stock of those participation levels. YAC leaders also want to future stakeholders to the facility, asking what they want to see in a new youth center/

Must-haves include capacity for meetings of at least 125 people and adjacent open space for outdoor activities.

"At the end of the day, we know this facility needs an open space," Grandlic said.

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