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City names Snoqualmie Ridge II park for pioneering mayor Jeanne Hansen
Former Snoqualmie Mayor Jeanne Hansen will be remembered with a namesake city park.
But it won't be the one that current Mayor Matt Larson and other city worthies always envisioned for her.
Testimony by city officials and longtime residents wasn't enough to sway the bulk of the Snoqualmie City Council to rename the Ridge's Community Park for Hansen. Council members voted 4-3 on Monday, July 26, to keep that unofficial moniker, used for the past decade, while naming the S-15 community park off Jacobia Street atop the Ridge's Phase II neighborhood for Hansen.
The former mayor, who led the city from 1987 to 1997 and died in 2001, played a major role in creation of the Ridge neighborhood. In June, the Snoqualmie Parks Board voted to name S-15 for Hansen. But Larson, who had long wanted the central park in the original Ridge neighborhood named for his predecessor, introduced a rival resolution for council to consider. Staff and several residents aired their support for the name change at Community Park, with several speakers relaying that many residents don't refer to the facility by its accepted name.
David Battey, a Valley historian and chairman of the Snoqualmie Planning Commission when the agreements creating the Ridge were made, related how he helped come up with the initial list of names for parks and streets.
"Most Ridge names are associated with real people," including Valley pioneers and long-established families, Battey said.
"We did make one major naming error," he told the council. "We named the school Casade View Elementary, which is so generic, one could never guess it was located in Snoqualmie.
"The name Snoqualmie Community Park is also too generic, and does not fit the Ridge naming conventions," Battey said. "It needs renaming to honor a person we can be proud to point to our children as someone to emulate."
Battey told the council that a Ridge II park wouldn't make sense to honor Hansen. The planned community's second phase was created during the subsequent Fletcher administration.
Honoring her in the center of the Ridge's first phase was a better honor, especially in 2010, the centennial of women's right to vote and run for election in this state, Battey added.
"If it were not for Jeanne Hansen, Snoqualmie Ridge would not be here," said Fritz Ribary, executive director of the Snoqualmie Valley Chamber of Commerce. "She had a much larger presence than simply that of mayor."
Hansen, he said, was intrumental in creating local HUB basketball, school counseling with Friends of Youth, the Snoqualmie Valley Hospital and the Business and Professional Women's Organization. As Weyerhaeuser's human resources manager, she was "the face and voice" of the company for more than 20 years, Ribary said.
"I can't help but think that if it weren't for Jeanne, this community would be much poorer," said Dick Ryon, a former land use manager for Weyerhaeuser. "Naming a park that is central to the Ridge for Jeanne is an extremely wise move. It will demonstrate that that a person with Jeanne's determination for success and community spirit has a place of honor in this town."
Hansen would never have asked for such an honor, Ryon said.
"But I say, step aside, Jeanne. We want to do something for you now," he said.
Planning Director Nancy Tucker told the council that Hansen had no role in the Ridge's second phase, but played a major role in making the Ridge a place for residents to live, work and play.
Community Park was never officially named because of an internal understanding that it would eventually be called after Hansen. She lost reelection to Randy "Fuzzy" Fletcher in 1997, and the intervening years were not the right time to rename the park, Larson said.
The "community" name itself was a placeholder, referring to the largest category of city parks. Centennial Fields, for example, is a community park.
Parks board members also approached the council, defending their recommendation.
Board member Lee Prewitt told the council that Community Park may not have been the Ridge center's official name, but, a decade since its creation, it is the de facto one.
"That's not just the name on the street, but the city itself," he said. "It's been referred to in countless publications."
"We felt it would be a greater honor to name a new park, rather than rename an existing park for Mayor Hansen," added parks committee member Mary Norton.
With discussions already happening about naming the future Snoqualmie YMCA at Community Park for the late director Harold Keller, "the Jeanne Hansen Park name would get lost," Norton said.
"The Harold Keller YMCA and Community Center in Jeanne Hansen Park just seemed like a lot," added councilwoman Maria Henriksen
Even though Jansen was primarily involved with Snoqualmie Ridge I, "she saw the Ridge as one entity," Norton said.
"We're trying to eliminate the distinction between historic Snoqualmie and the Ridge," she added. "Very soon, we're not going to have the distinction between Snoqualmie Ridge I and II. As a vote for unity, I would not tie her name just to SR I."
Councilman Bob Jeans, who voted against the name change, described his vision of the new Jeanne Hansen Park looking out over the Valley as she would have done.
With the vote, council members called for proper signage to make clear the official names of the two parks.
"Names are being used at the parks that have signs," Henriksen said. "We all understand how important park signage is now."