Si View Parks District floats $6 million bond for parks, building fixes

Si View Metro Parks District will go to voters in Snoqualmie and North Bend for the first renovation bond in its 17-year history.

The district board has approved a $6.7 million request for the Aug. 17 primary election.

Bond funds, which amount to about 21 cents per $1,000 in property value, pay for urgent repairs and upgrades at the Si View Community Center in North Bend, and creation of a new public park at Tollgate Farm.

Bond repairs will tackle decades of deferred maintenance at the 1938 structure, which was built by the federal Works Project Administration and run by King County Metro Parks for years before the creation of the local district in 2003. This is the first bond to be floated by Si View.

"We realize we have a great thing here," Si View Parks Director Travis Stombaugh said. "We want to increase our ability to meet the needs of the Valley."

First on the list is a rehabilitation of the 72-year-old center. Rotting siding, leaking roofs and aging gutters and windows are taking their toll on the building. When it rains, staff put out buckets in the gymnasium and pool to catch leaks. Some building materials can be saved, but "we have to get rid of the stuff that falls apart in your hands," Stombaugh said.

Rain days mean that staff at Si View pool deploy a bucket in the office to catch errant drops.

"If it's going to be wet anywhere, it might as well be at the pool," said Bridget O'Connell, recreation director for the Si View aquatics program.

"You work with what you've got," she added.

O'Connell welcomes anything that would improve the facility.

"It's a nice old building that's vitally important and very well used by the community," she said.

New parks

Out of doors, the bond would level the Si View Park playfields, making for safer places to play.

The park is an open field that was made a recreation area some 70 years ago. It now serves multiple uses, but has never received any serious improvement.

"We want it to be safe, so you're not turning ankles and overextending your knees," Stombaugh said.

Last week, Si View closed its play structure at the park.

"The one we have right now is falling apart," Stombaugh said.

Besides three new play structures, the bond would add a new trail around the park, as well as pathways and landscaping.

On the other side of North Bend, the bond would provide a new park at city-owned Tollgate Farm. A parking area, bathrooms, a picnic area, play structure and trails will be built.

"We'll preserve the views of Mount Si," Stombaugh said. "The coolest thing is the trails," which run past pasture for cows to connect with the city of North Bend, Meadowbrook Farm and the wider Valley.

He described the parks district-city partnership as a great collaboration.

"Neither party could do it on its own," Stombaugh said. "We don't have to purchase a park; the city lets us do these improvements for the benefit of everyone."

The bond also consolidates a $1.1 million bond for new parking improvements constructed in 2009 at Si View.

Si View includes North Bend and unincorporated areas surrounding Snoqualmie. Taxes fund about a third of the Si View budget.

Si View residents currently pay about $4 cents per $1,000 in property value in Si View's existing levy.

If approved, the owner of a $350,000 home would pay about $6 more per month.

Why now?

The Si View district will soon form a bond committee to publicly promote the measure at summer festivals and events.

While the bond is being floated in tough economic times, Stombaugh said it is also coming when construction prices are down

In the last two years, Si View has doubled its programming because of need.

"These projects help us become more sustainable," Stombaugh said.

Passage of the bond lowers maintenance costs and free up funding for capital improvements, such as a renovation of the public kitchen.

Stombaugh said the Si View Community Center is unique.

"You can't duplicate it," he said. "We want to preserve this for the future. We want to shine it up a little bit."

"We're not making ourselves bigger, we're just taking care of what we have," Stombaugh added.

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