Snoqualmie Council delays funding of visitor information center to discuss tourism plan

Council delayed the approval of visitor center funding until a long-term tourism plan is disucssed.

On Jan. 14, the Snoqualmie City Council approved mid-year Lodging Tax Advisory Committee funding for Meadowbrook Farm and delayed discussion on funding the Art Gallery of SnoValley for Visitor Information Center services.

The Lodging Tax Advisory Committee reviews applications for funding from the city’s Lodging Tax for tourism related operations. The committee recommends funding annually, but also does mid-year applications. For these mid-year requests, the committee recommended both Meadowbrook Farm and the Art Gallery of SnoValley receive full funding.

Meadowbrook’s request for $3,947 cited marketing and advertising work to increase awareness of the location as a destination for weddings, corporate events and wildlife viewing. The Art Gallery, operating as an interim Visitor Information Center (VIC) since 2016, requested $11,412 to fund operation of VIC services from May 27, 2019 to Sept. 2.

Since 2017, the city has funded the Art Gallery to host tourism and was finding services after the previous VIC, operated by the Snoqualmie Valley Chamber of Commerce, was sold to a local business. The decision was made to partner with the Art Gallery in 2017 to give the city time to work on long-term plans for tourism.

Councilmember Sean Sundwall said he did not want to approve the request for funding until the city had a tourism plan in place. Sundwall lamented the lack of discussion that has occurred on the tourism plan and hoped that not funding the VIC services would spark action from the city and council to begin work on a plan.

He clarified that his request to not fund the Art Gallery was not an indictment on their operation of a VIC, but that he wanted the city to begin work on the tourism plan.

In response, Councilmember Jim Mayhew moved to delay the consideration of the VIC funding by 30 days in order to work out a longer term marketing plan for the city. Mayhew said he did not want a tourism plan to be rushed through in just 30 days, but 30 days would allow time for discussion and exploration of the topic and would give the council an idea of how long drafting a tourism plan would take.

The council agreed to delay a vote on the funding of VIC services to discuss tourism planning and voted 6-1 to approve the amendment. Councilmember Bryan Holoway voted against the amendment, saying he didn’t think it would be fair to single out the application and it hold it back from funding while a tourism plan is created.

The council also voted unanimously to approve the Meadowbrook Farms funding request.

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