Letters to the Editor

North Bend needs a new vision

Dear people of North Bend: We need a dynamic vision, not just a mission statement, a vision that guides all of our decisions regarding North Bend's development.

North Bend stands on the brink of opportunity to develop this beautiful little town into a destination spot, where people from Seattle and those driving across the pass can bring their families to enjoy the gorgeous scenery and rejuvenating peace that we are blessed to experience every day.

On April 6, the city council voted to change the zoning regarding commercial development south of Interstate 90. Now what? The fact is that whatever is built at the entrance to North Bend will create the image of the city for many decades.

We need farsighted visionaries! Either we allow North Bend to be defined as as a pit stop between Seattle and the Pass, or we set our sights higher, our plans more encompassing of the entire town, and use creative thinking to market North Bend for the benefit of everyone who lives here, our children, and the children of generations to come! We have a choice, people! Where are the visionaries that America is known for?

Past the debates, the disagreements and concerns, people in this town have started to make wonderful suggestions regarding the future of North Bend, and how the property south of I-90 could be used to market and fuel the economic growth of the entire town. One creative suggestion has received wide acclaim. Of course, Mr. Wyrsh, the land owner, should be free to develop his property and be compensated for his development. What if, though, Mr. Wyrsh focused his development to benefit all of the businesses of North Bend and all who live here. Specifically, what if Mr Wyrsh partnered with the city, the U.S. Forest Service or private concerns to create a “Gateway to the Cascades" visitor's center at the entrance to North Bend at exit 31. The center could be named The Wyrsh Family Visitor Center to honor the contributions that Mr. Wyrsh and his late father have made to the town. What an incredible legacy Mr. Wyrsh and his family could leave to the city!

North Bend offers more than 70 hikes in the area. The nearby mountains, lakes, streams and opportunities for outdoor fun and adventure are North Bend's most valuable and marketable resource. The center would draw local and out of state tourists, families and adventurous young people, and redefine the image of North Bend as a gateway to natural wonders, an image that would fuel the economic and business development of the city for years to come. At the visitor's center, people could also be funneled to the downtown core to try a fresh cookie or doughnut at Georges' Bakery or a scrumptious meal and live jazz at Boxleys. There is precedent for this suggestion.

In the 1970s, Dick Zemp, another visionary developer, worked with the city to build The Encompass Center for Children on his land in North Bend. (www.pnwlocalnews.com/east_king/svr/news/30190119.html)

Mr. Zemp left a legacy that has improved the lives of thousands of children in the valley. Partnering with the city, National Forest Service or private concerns, Mr. Wyrsh has the opportunity to leave a similar, wonderful legacy. The Wyrsh Family Visitor Center would fuel development and literally define North Bend as a destination city, one carefully designed to take advantage of its incredible beauty and sense of adventure. After exploring a carefully designed town, people would want to return to build businesses and live here, and the city would thrive.

Where are the visionaries – the dynamic, creative thinkers? Please step up! Let's not waste this incredible opportunity to help North Bend become a model for small town development throughout the nation

Jean Hoedl

North Bend

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