The Snoqualmie City Council has listed funding for the Snoqualmie Parkway and expanding the city’s community center as the top two priorities in the draft of its 2022 state legislative priorities list.
The list, compiled by an ad-hoc committee comprised of Snoqualmie Mayor Matt Larson, Mayor Pro-tem James Mayhew and Mayor-elect Katherine Ross, defines what issues the city will prioritize when working with its state representatives next year. The state Legislature is scheduled to reconvene in Olympia in January for the beginning of its 2022 legislative session.
Alongside its top priorities, the list includes five lesser priorities:
■ The continuation of funding for the City Riverwalk project.
■ Funding for widening of State Route 18.
■ Additional funding for mental health and substance abuse treatment, including a mental health navigator to work alongside police.
■ Funding for elk crossing infrastructure along State Route 202.
■ Money for affordable housing.
For years, the council has unsuccessfully tried to secure state funding for the $6.4 million need to resurface the Snoqualmie Parkway. The parkway has been significantly damaged by large trucks that frequent the road and has a rating of 53 out of 100 on the pavement condition index, where a score of 60 represents poor condition.
Over the summer, to buy additional time until state funds could be secured, the city spent $206,830 to put crack sealing on the road to prevent additional deterioration of the asphalt.
Mayor Matt Larson said the city has been floating the idea to officially make the parkway part of State Route 18, which would place it under the state Department of Transportation’s (WSDOT) jurisdiction.
However, the parkway is in need of urgent repairs, and transitioning the parkway from city to state control can take up to two to three years. Until that happens, Larson said a WSDOT administrator recommended the city continue to work to secure the state funding.
The city’s other top priority, a community center expansion, is looking to use state funds to reduce capacity constraints and add a swimming pool at the Snoqualmie Valley YMCA.
Ross, who serves as the council’s community liaison to the YMCA Board, listed expanding the facility as one of her top priorities when campaigning for mayor this fall. She said she has been working to address over-capacity issues at the facility for two years.
Due to funding constraints in 2011, the community center is one-third of the size that was originally planned. Since opening, the city has seen massive growth, and the center reports 40% of residents use the facility.
The biggest debate among the council was whether to consider affordable housing a top priority alongside the parkway and community center. The debate centered on whether affordable housing was an issue unique to the city or a regional issue.
In a 2-3 vote, with Councilmember Matt Laase abstaining and Councilmember James Mayhew absent, the council rejected adding the issue to the top priority list. Larson said although affordable housing is an issue, he wanted the list to prioritize issues that only Snoqualmie is facing.
“We structured these in a way that they are specifically unique to Snoqualmie,” Larson said. “I’m quite satisfied from all levels [of government] that affordable housing is a very high priority.”
Larson said the mayors of Issaquah, Sammamish and Redmond along with all the Valley mayors have agreed to meet and find similarities in needs as they look to voice their concerns to the state Legislature this winter.