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Opinion | Trading convenience for security at Valley schools, or why North Bend Elementary’s Claggett Field was fenced
Times change, even for what is, for me, North Bend’s coolest place.
Back when I lived in downtown North Bend, the open field between Two Rivers School and North Bend Elementary, also known as Claggett Field, was the most idyllic spot in town.
True, it didn’t have EJ Roberts’ dry creek or walking path, or Si View’s public amenities. But it was closer to home, and its row of stately firs beckoned for book reads and Frisbee games on summer afternoons. When I hustled overdue books back to the library, I’d tour the paths and walk over the old foundations of the long-lost North Bend High School. This is the field where hundreds gather to watch the fireworks from nearby Torguson Park during the festival at Mount Si. This is where crowds cheer on youth soccer teams in the quintessential suburban sports ritual.
Well, Claggett Field is different now, in a less than subtle way, with a six-foot chain link barrier.
The fencing of this field, which is not a city park but school property, the week that school began was a jarring moment for the many families who use this place. And while I believe some balance still needs to be considered regarding access, I believe that the Snoqualmie Valley School District had little choice but to fence the field. That’s down to the age we now live in. Times change.
Remember, kids at North Bend Elementary don’t have a playfield. Claggett Field is their field, so with Sandy Hook and the other demented outbreaks of violence spurring concern nationwide, it seemed like leaving North Bend with the one unfenced school field in the upper Valley needed to stop.
I walked the field the other day, and I agree with parents that the park does need at least one more access point on Third Street. But the fence itself doesn’t ruin the park. The stately firs remain, there’s still plenty of open space, inside and outside the chain links. You can still stroll on grass around the firs. But it’s a bit of a walk inside for parents and kids arriving for youth sports in the afternoon, so a rethink might be in order on gate placement. If a school staffer is unlocking and unlocking the Snoqualmie Valley Trail gate when the bell rings, surely he or she can take an extra few minutes to unlock a second gate.
We’d all better get used to things like this. As with the new closed-camera entry system at Fall City Elementary School—a pilot program aimed at improving security between open and close of school—the fence is a sign of the times. Schools have little choice but to do these things. Imagine what would happen if we did nothing, and something bad happened? The school had to err on the side of safety over convenience. For all parents to have peace of mind, it’s worth a trade-off—just a few extra steps.