The mayors of both Snoqualmie and North Bend gaves citizen a look into the current state and future of their respective cities at their State of the City presentations at the Snoqualmie Valley Chamber of Commerce Luncheon on April 25.
Chamber members, city staff and elected officials from both the city and county levels were in attendance as the mayors discussed the various projects and plans for the future of each city.
North Bend Mayor Ken Hearing kicked off the luncheon with his presentation, beginning with an update of the new City Hall building. Proposed for the city-owned 10-acre parcel between North Bend Way and Cedar Falls Way, the project was put out for bid last month, and the bids all came underneath the engineer’s estimate, Hearing said. The city is hoping the project is able to break ground in June.
Multi-family housing was another big topic Hearing discussed. The last time the city had multi-family development was 1995, he stated, before outlining upcoming projects like the Cedar River Apartments, River Run and Phoenix Plaza. Some of the upcoming housing is designated as affordable, and Hearing hopes more of the multi-family units would promote Valley workers to live in North Bend.
With more development, Hearing said the city put together a new Economic Development Commission to implement the identified core values and brand of the city. The commission is working to create a set of filter questions to be asked when developers approach the city with a project. The commissions questions will give an idea of how the project would fit with the existing nature and character of the city, he said.
“Not necessarily to exclude but to encourage those that do fit the brand,” Hearing said.
North Bend’s parks were another big topic for Hearing. He highlighted a few parks including the upcoming Tanner Trailhead Park that was originally intended to have 38 homes built on the property. Due to steep slopes and other environmental constraints, the developers gave up and wanted to sell the property. North Bend, in partnership with King County and Si View Metro Parks, were able to purchase the land and will convert it into a park that will connect to various trails.
“This should connect North Bend to all the trails along Rattlesnake, and all the way from Preston to Olallie park. this is going to be a great amenity to have,” Hearing said.
In regards to police services, Hearing was very happy with the contracted services they receive from Snoqualmie and presented survey data that shows more North Bend residents feel safer than ever.
Hearing also said the city was negotiating with state patrol to determine where the weigh station that sits at the I-90 and Highway 18 interchange would be moved when the improvements start being made to that portion of the highway.
“Their preferred option is the exit 34 option, we think that exit 38 is a better option,” he said.
Snoqualmie Mayor Matt Larson picked up the second half of the chamber event as his presentation highlighted some of the economic and community development projects in the city. In the last year Snoqualmie has seen the completion of the Safeway and Bartell Drugs projects and construction is now underway on the hotel.
On April 2, Larson said, the Muckleshoot Tribe delivered their plans to move forward with the Salish expansion in phases. The project he said, was legally entitled to move forward 14 years ago, but now finally the Muckleshoot Tribe is coming forward with the project. The expansion is proposed in phases with the hotel, meeting and events space, and expanded parking lot coming first before any residential units.
Larson also touched on the Mill Site development project and said there has been no update since the last time the developers made a presentation to the chamber luncheon in 2017. Larson does expect the city to get an update on the project within the next two to three months.
The affordable housing project planned for the property just north of the Snoqualmie Valley Hospital has also made progress.
“One of the last components of required affordable housing for Snoqualmie Ridge phase two is coming forward, the last legal hurdles are now done and this project is ready to proceed with 191 units of housing,” he said.
The affordable housing units requirements are for applicants at 60 percent or less of King County’s adjusted median income. He explained having more options for people living in the city will be a big benefit to local businesses.
“We increasingly cannot have people that support all of the business activity in this Valley working in service sector jobs not getting paid enough wages to live here,” Larson said. “School districts and a lot of other organizations or even cities are having harder and harder times retaining employees for that reason.”
In addition to several park improvements and public works projects, Larson also touched upon the I-90 Highway 18 interchange project, saying that although the design work was supposed to begin in September 2017, the work has been delayed a few months while WSDOT hires a contractor for the design work.
“Our top priority when they get that contractor on board is to work with them and see if they can’t convince WSDOT at little to no cost if we can provide designated access for Valley residents onto the freeway in the morning throughout the construction period,” he said.