A conceptual design of the proposed YMCA expansion put forth by the city of Snoqualmie. Courtesy Photo

A conceptual design of the proposed YMCA expansion put forth by the city of Snoqualmie. Courtesy Photo

Snoqualmie YMCA expansion proposes aquatics facility and multi-use space

The city is proposing a $12.5 million expansion for the YMCA community center building.

The YMCA on the Snoqualmie Ridge has served residents for years, but the growth of the city has increased demand for services. Now the city of Snoqualmie is proposing a $12.5 million expansion to the building that would give the organization more space for activities, and that expansion includes a new pool.

The proposed improvement is a 22,000 square foot addition with significant multi-purpose space for workouts, meetings and storage. The aquatics facility will feature both cold and warm-water pools.

Snoqualmie YMCA executive director Nate Smith said the size limitations have been one of the organization’s biggest challenges for years. Because the Ridge location has such a high demand, they are often short on space to run programs or accommodate users of the gym.

The city owns the building. The effort to get a community center location on the Ridge was in the works for decades before it completed construction in 2011, Snoqualmie Mayor Matt Larson said.

Larson said the facility is the city’s community center and the YMCA is the operator the city has contracted with.

“This is our community center,” he said. “The Y is simply the operator we contract with this.”

The YMCA was chosen as a partner to operate out of the building because of its regional resources and access to a larger support structure it can provide to residents. As part of the agreement with the city, the YMCA takes on full maintenance and operations responsibilities for the building.

Initial cost estimates are about $12.5 million, Larson said, with the YMCA planning to contribute $2.2 million through grant opportunities and fundraising. The city is working on plans to fund the remainder of the cost through one-time capital funds, methods such as reallocating existing utility tax revenue in a way that will not take away from ongoing capital needs.

The construction of the community center building was completed as a smaller project than originally intended. It was aimed to be a first step before an expansion would meet the needs of the ever-growing community. Since 2011, the city’s population has grown from 11,000 to more than 14,000. In addition to the larger population, the Snoqualmie YMCA has the second highest service-area penetration rate in the country, Larson said.

Those factors have been the primary reason why demand has been so hard to keep up with for the YMCA administration team.

Citizens haven’t just wanted more space, but specific services too. Smith said a pool has long been sought by the public.

“The biggest question we always get is ‘When is the pool coming?’” he said.

Gaining the ability to provide access to water safety and swim lessons would meet a need in the community. Aquatics facilities are offered at other YMCA locations in the region but are not easily accessible in the city of Snoqualmie.

According to Larson, a 2018 city survey asked citizens why they were not fully satisfied with the YMCA facility. More than 70 percent of respondents said it had to do with the building being too small and 77 percent requested a pool be added.

If the city moves forward with the project this year, Larson said the expansion could be in place as soon as 2021.

To collect more feedback and answer citizen questions, the YMCA expansion will be the topic of discussion of the upcoming May 19 Town Hall event at Cascade View Elementary. Larson said he hopes the city can make a formal decision by the summer so the YMCA can pursue grant funding for the project.

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