Opinion

Column inaccurately depicted community center

Last week, Mr. Tony Yanez wrote a misleading column concerning the proposed Snoqualmie Community Center (Oct. 10 edition, "Some other questions answered concerning center"). Mr. Yanez and I had an opportunity to discuss his column recently and I was very pleased to conclude that his errors were the result of innocent mistakes, or lack of information, and not ill intent.

I respect Mr. Yanez's passion, concern and commitment to the city of Snoqualmie, and his willingness to address some of his mistakes in this week's paper. However, he still does not acknowledge the full extent of his inaccurate statements, which are addressed below.

1) Half of his guest editorial was based on one significant error. In 2001, the community center went through a design change in response to citizen input. The original 1999 design involved two separate facilities (community center and pool) that were to be built at different times (47,000 total square feet).

The newly redesigned - and currently proposed - facility combined the community center and pool into a smaller and more cost-effective building (39,000 total square feet).

Mr. Yanez presented the construction, maintenance and operations cost estimates of these two different buildings (1999 vs. 2001) as if they were the same building. Consequently, none of the numbers in his first two sections are accurate. This was an easy mistake to make since no individual report explained how the overall planning process evolved.

2) Mr. Yanez states that Peter Pecora "used information from the campaign committee pamphlet ... the council demanded the pamphlet be rewritten." This is not true. Mr. Pecora used information being compiled from numerous sources by the Community Center Election (Pro) Committee.

The council had been discussing the contents of an entirely unrelated community center "fact sheet" and it has nothing to do with political campaign information.

3) He claims that "four studies state the community center ... is not recommended or affordable at this time." This is not true. The only study that came close to making such a statement is a March 7, 2001, feasibility report (page 12). It stated, "It is our recommendation that the city resolve the issue ... of a pool ... before proceeding with a capital campaign for the community center."

This recommendation resulted in the 1999 facility being redesigned - in 2001 - to include a pool. Why would two councils, the mayor and his staff proceed with this project if consultants had recommended otherwise?

4) His future tax estimates lack key data related to the city's rising assessed valuation and other taxing districts, and their impact on the overall levy rate, and his inflation figure is not relevant to the Snoqualmie Valley. Consequently, his calculations are far from accurate.

5) Mr. Yanez claims that the "campaign committee at a City Council meeting" recommended a $60-$100 monthly family membership fee. He does not say who made such a statement and at what council meeting. I do not recall such a statement or recommendation ever being made.

6) Mr. Yanez claims that our city administrator, Gary Armstrong, stated, "if this bond passes, the city will have to make drastic cuts in all services ..." This is a gross distortion of what Mr. Armstrong said. Mr. Armstrong stated that the council would have to make adjustments in its priorities in order to avoid future cuts and to prepare for any potential shortfalls the community center might create.

Mr. Armstrong had been serving as president of the Community Center Board of Directors. He also recommended the current community center design to the former council in December 2001, when it voted unanimously to move forward with this project.

Mr. Armstrong has kept the city in very good financial shape and he is not prone to encourage city councils to pursue fiscally irresponsible projects.

7) Finally Mr. Yanez asserts, "Snoqualmie was rated the second highest in tax increases, 13.5 percent, in the county." This is completely false. Our taxes have not gone up 13.5 percent. Due to the many expensive homes being built on the Ridge, the average home price in Snoqualmie is now 13.5 percent higher.

This does not mean that your house went up 13.5 percent. If you add up the value of all the houses in Snoqualmie and divide by the same number of houses, you get an average that is now 13.5 percent higher than last year. The fact that your neighbor built a $1,000,000 home a mile away that increased the "average" home price in the city does not mean your taxes went up. This number is only used to create a quick demographic profile of each city.

All of the documents that Mr. Yanez referred to are now available for your own inspection on the Community Center Election Committee's Web site at www.snoqualmieinfo.com.

It is important to note that I am writing as a resident of Snoqualmie and am not speaking on behalf of the City Council or administration.

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