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Besides the story of Jack Lewis fulfilling a dream to fly a fighter plan, there were some other great stories in the Valley Record last week. First, the connection between Snoqualmie Ridge neighborhoods and Lake Alice.
The city, along with a large number of residents, debated this very subject nearly 10 years ago. At that time, there were no Ridge residents to debate the issue. It was primarily Lake Alice residents saying "no way" to the idea of a connection. It was obvious, at that time, that Lake Alice residents didn't want a planned unit development to encroach upon their quiet lakeside neighborhood.
My question is, why the connection now? Has something changed that would make Lake Alice residents want to connect to the Ridge? Is it convenience of shopping? Is it the desire to hit Interstate 90 without driving down the winding blacktop that currently exists? It really can't be advantageous for Ridge residents to have access to the Lake Alice Road, other than for an occasional fishing jaunt to the public boat ramp. Sure, businesses in Snoqualmie may benefit from the few residents at Lake Alice who may shop there because of the new connection, but the issue really isn't something the city should even contemplate at this time.
If a majority of homeowners on the Lake Alice Road petitioned the city for a connection, then I'd say consider it. But its absurd for anyone to suggest the city should take up the issue merely to benefit Ridge residents. My guess is the few Ridge residents who want the connection have never driven the road on an icy morning, and they probably haven't lived here long enough to remember when the road was plagued with slides.
The county would have to significantly improve the Lake Alice Road to make it a viable alternative to get to state Route 202 to get to Fall City. Let's put the issue to bed for another five years and let the build out of the Ridge happen, or wait for a majority of property owners at Lake Alice to say, "Yes, we want the connection." And let's wait until the county comes up with some of the money it would take to pursue the connection and improvements to the road.
The other interesting story was about aquatics centers, pools and water parks. I do think a regional pool, somewhere between North Bend and Snoqualmie, is the best approach. Sharing the cost among all Valley residents makes sense. The idea that Snoqualmie should attempt to support a pool on its own doesn't make a whole lot of sense and honestly, I do not think a significant number of non-Snoqualmie residents will travel to the currently proposed location on Snoqualmie Ridge for lessons.
Snoqualmie Valley, including Fall City, has approximately 14,200 homes. Less than half of the Valley's population will be inside Snoqualmie's city limits even at build-out. Wouldn't it be prudent to share those costs across the entire Valley; realizing that pools are extremely expensive to operate? Do Snoqualmie residents really want to take on that tax burden alone?
I would urge the Snoqualmie City Council to seek a way to work on the idea of a regional facility.
As for the county's desire to build an indoor recreational water facility, uh, hmmm. Maybe those same county officials pushing the idea don't remember the water park that failed miserably in Issaquah about 25 years ago. It was located where the Swedish Hospital Emergency Clinic is located now. In the bleak of winter, when it's cold and rainy in the Valley, do we really think people will drive here to play in water, even indoors? Heck no. They will continue right past the water park to Snoqualmie Pass to go skiing.
I would hope the county will continue discussions with the metropolitan parks district to keep local residents in the loop. I do applaud the county for recognizing that Snoqualmie Valley needs rural economic development, but a water park might be a bit premature, even several years from now. Let's work at developing more of the Middle Fork first to create rural economic opportunities. Campgrounds and outdoor recreation will give the area a shot in the arm.