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Campaign begins for Si View Metro Parks bond, makeover
Fast-paced electronic dance music thumped through the Si View Community Center gymnasium as Jackie Andrewjeski led a group of women in a weights fitness class.
The 21st-century rhythms contrasted with the gym's 72-year-old wood and stone interior. Built during the Great Depression as a federal public works project, the building is showing signs of age.
Rotting siding, leaking roofs and aging gutters and windows are taking their toll.
"We've got to keep up with the upkeep," said Andrewjeski, who comes to the center four times a week, for her childrens' camps and classes as well as leading the arm-curling group of woman beside her.
The community center may get its long-awaited makeover when the Si View Metro Parks District goes to voters this summer for the first renovation bond in its seven-year history. Volunteer boosters kicked off the campaign for the $6.7 million request, now on the Aug. 17 primary election ballot, at an open house last week.
The bond adds 21 cents per $1,000 in property value to pay for repairs and upgrades that Si View staff describe as urgent. It also creates 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.
"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 community center. 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.
"It's an ankle twister," said North Bend parent Kirsten Cheney, whose daughter plays lacrosse on the field. The field makeover, Cheney said, is badly needed.
The district plans to make room for two soccer fields and a baseball field at the center. 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 put a new park at city-owned Tollgate Farm. A parking area, bathrooms, a picnic area, play structure and trails will be built.
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.
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 frees 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.
Si View bond boosters started the campaign to support the measure at a June 23 open house. Committee members will be visiting North Bend businesses and organizing phone banks to pursue a "yes" vote.
Several park and community center users said they will back the bond.
"We practice on this field," said parent Tim Buell. "It's going to be nice to have real soccer fields out here."
"It was a shame to see the tennis courts go," said Buell, alluding to the recent parking project that replaced courts with car stalls. He hopes to see the courts return as part of the bond project.
North Bend resident Leo Gabay and his wife Greta came to the meeting to complain about the lack of a senior discount at the Si View pool.
By the time he left, Gabay had made an appointment to talk to Stombaugh about the discount, and was in favor of the measure.
"If the community is spirited enough to improve our park, the more facilities, the better," Gabay said.