The candidates for the Si View Metropolitan Park District Commissioner Position 1 are incumbent Catherine Fredenburg and Kayla Noonan.
Fredenburg is an associate principal at Emerson K-12 and Noonan is a student at Bellevue College.
The General Election is Nov. 5.
What do you feel is the best plan to protect parks in the area?
Fredenburg: To protect parks and open space in the area, it is vital to develop and maintain strong connections with local agencies supporting parks and open space. Current Si View Metropolitan Parks District partnerships include the cities of North Bend and Snoqualmie, Mountains to Sound Greenway, Department of Natural Resources, United States Forest Service, King County, Snoqualmie Valley School District and the Greenway Trust. It is imperative these partnerships remain strong so parks are well managed and connected with a larger area plan.
In addition to partnerships, it is important to look for ways to develop revenue to support the upkeep of parks. Programming of indoor and outdoor spaces allow both access to the public and also provide income to cover the maintenance and repair of parks and buildings. Bringing in revenue lessens the burden on taxpayers to support parks and trails.
Noonan: I feel that the best way to protect the parks in the area is to have public land remain as public land forever, in perpetuity. We should never privatize or sell our public land — after all, we invested our money to purchase it in the first place. The purchase of the Mule Farm property should be right at the top of the list.
Developers should pay their fair share to purchase park properties to serve the developments that they’re profiting from, regardless of the number of units in each phase of each development.
Do you approve of a new aquatics center in the area? If so, how would it be a viable inclusion to the area?
Fredenburg: In responding to the desires of the community, I support an aquatics center. In the 2016 Community Priorities Survey, 67 percent of respondents reported a family aquatics center as either a top or high priority. This response, along with the recent results of the aquatics feasibility study, highlights the need for an aquatics center in the upper Snoqualmie Valley. To make the aquatics center a viable inclusion to the area, it would be best to form partnerships that allow for a regional center to meet all needs of our community.
Noonan: I would love to have a new aquatics center in the area, but I think my generation will be the ones paying for it, and we can’t afford that. It will be paid from our property taxes. The cost of rent and owning a home will increase in price along with many other things my generation won’t be able to afford. Also — and I think this is the biggest thing for me — there are five public aquatics centers within less than 17 miles. It may be worth looking into expanding the one we already have instead of building a new one.
What is the ideal way to improve connections between parks?
Fredenburg: Currently, Si View Metropolitan Parks District works closely with the city of North Bend to improve trail connections between parks and the city. Examples include the newly opened trail connecting Tollgate Park with the Snoqualmie Valley Trail. Future trails are also in the works to help make North Bend accessible for walkers and bikers.
It is important to continue looking for ways to connect existing and future parks to current trails, and downtown North Bend. In making parks and trails more accessible to the city of North Bend, we can help increase patronage of local businesses.
The new South Fork Landing Park could potentially have trails leading to downtown North Bend. By connecting the future Tennant Trailhead Park to downtown North Bend, current Rattlesnake Ridge and Raging River trails would connect to the city.
Noonan: My opinion on what the most ideal way to improve connections between parks would be a network of trails that are already being planned. Some trails are already there and others will fill in the gaps connecting Metropolitan Park District (MPD) owned parks and city-owned parks. I believe the MPD is planning on the development of a trail between the MPD owned golf course property and the Si View park.
How do you plan to further make parks more accessible for visitors?
Fredenburg: It is important to make sure parks are easily accessible for all members of the community. To do so, Si View Metropolitan Parks District can ensure appropriate signage of parks, use the website and social media to inform community members of events, and insure appropriate parking and infrastructure for all accessibility needs.
In addition to advertising, it is important to acquire properties that ensure parks are equitably dispersed throughout the community so all constituents have parks located near their homes. After parks are acquired, community engagement is necessary to help determine how the park can support local needs. Examples include the upcoming community engagement process to create a master plan for the South Fork Landing Park. In responding to community needs, visitors will have a variety of desired activities available to them through Si View Metropolitan Parks District offerings.
Noonan: I would love to make parks more accessible for visitors, and the plan that I’m in the process of is that we have built a series of gravel and paved trails throughout the parks. When funds become available, I hope to turn all the gravel trails into paved trails, allowing improved access for those that need a smooth surface.
The MPD is a special purpose district, created to operate Si View Park and save the pool when King County prepared to close it down. The MPD has done a great job of operating and improving that facility.
Add to that the MPD operational bonds, the estimated $90 million for the Snoqualmie Valley Hospital District and the additional amounts for the Regional Fire Authority and school district bonds — special purpose district voter-approved fees add up.
My generation will be paying those debts off. I believe that the MPD Board of Commissioners need to pay close attention to the ever-expanding debt service.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Noonan incorrectly stated information about a $14 million MPD bond that was approved by voters. Taxpayers have been paying for that bond since January of this year. The incorrect information has been removed from this article.