Inside city council chambers on Tuesday night, North Bend Mayor Rob McFarland delivered his annual State of the City address, recapping the city’s legislative achievements over the last year.
The nearly 40 minute speech, held at the March 7 city council meeting, comes at the beginning of McFarland’s fourth year in office and the last of his current term.
When McFarland started in 2020, becoming the city’s first new mayor in over a decade, it was just months before the COVID-19 outbreak would upend life in the Snoqualmie Valley. He referenced that uncertainty during the beginning of his speech Tuesday, noting they were tackling big unknowns from day one.
“Folks were scared. I was scared. Not only for potential illness, or worse, but what this could do to our community and our local businesses,” he said. “To be frank, it was an incredibly challenging start to my term.”
Now in 2023, after an “uphill battle,” McFarland said the message for this year is “resilience, continuity and perseverance.”
McFarland open his remarks talking about the city’s budget, which it passed in December. He also referenced the city’s “first true” Economic Development Action Plan, which is expected to release this spring and recommend actions to guide sustainable investment, job creation and better amenities for residents.
In addition, McFarland spoke on the $135,000 Snoqualmie Valley Regional Housing Need Assessment and Action plan. Led by the city of North Bend, the plans aims to look at solutions for providing a greater variety of housing to the region.
Housing has been a top priority of McFarland’s administration. This past year, he said, the city saw its first significant multi-family housing built since the 1990s.
“I believe economic and housing diversity is good for our community and local economy,” McFarland said. “I will do all I can to see this gap addressed.”
McFarland also announced construction of a hotel in North Bend’s outlet mall is moving forward, with lofty goals to begin site work later this year. Wyndham, a hotel company, recently submitted an application for the site, McFarland said.
In the middle of his speech McFarland reflected on infrastructure accomplishments.
The Meadowbrook Utility Local Improvement District, which will add sewer to the western portion of town, was approved by the city council last August after years of negotiations. That project will allow neighborhood businesses to fully develop their properties and provide a greater tax-base for the city, McFarland said.
The city has also been aggressively targeting leaks in its water system, McFarland said, and is over half-way finished on its $35 million wastewater treatment plant project.
The city also continues to negotiate with the Sallal Water Association. A deal with Sallal could end water challenges for the city, who is in need of additional mitigation water to comply with it water rights agreement and protect water levels in the Snoqualmie River. McFarland said he is “as optimistic as I’ve ever been,” that the city will find a way to reach an agreement after over a decade of negotiations.
One of the biggest planning efforts currently underway, McFarland said, involves the city’s Complete Streets Corridor Plan, an effort to make the North Bend Way Corridor more pedestrian-centric with an emphasis on easy access to downtown businesses.
McFarland rounded out his speech discussing new park improvements. He shared plans for a new management framework at Meadowbrook Farm, involving a partnership with the Snoqualmie Tribe, city of Snoqualmie, and Si View Parks District.
“I love our community. All of our community,” McFarland said in closing remarks. “For as long as I’m your mayor, I’ll continue to work for the best outcomes and future of the whole community. That’s my promise to you.”