Last week, the Snoqualmie City Council kept an open mind (and open pocketbook to the tune of $12,000) for the Snoqualmie Valley Chamber of Commerce’s Winter Magic festival. The plan, now in the permitting stage, is to put an artificial skating rink downtown and on the Ridge during holidays, welcoming families for ice skating and other outdoor fun. The Chamber, first under Nate Perea, now with Director Lizzy Billington, has been working for about a year to get some kind of rink downtown. When a permanent rink proved to be too expensive, they thought a temporary one might be a good way to test the ice, so to speak. Now, the project has to prove itself a success.
One of the underlying reasons for the council’s green-light, over staff’s reservations, is because of the impact of downtown’s ongoing street project.
Since August, the downtown block’s Railroad Avenue parking area has been replaced by a construction zone, with occasional one-lane shutdowns and delays. Downtown merchants are feeling the pinch from five months of construction, work that will last well into next year. So it was no surprise to see Wendy Thomas, owner of Carmichael’s True Value Hardware, and Dave Eiffert, GM of Snoqualmie Brewery, both downtown anchor businesses, at last Monday’s meeting, championing the holiday rink.
It’s a given that downtown needs some love. The city’s community Christmas tree lighting festival takes place there, but with the loss of parking and other construction challenges, it’s appropriate to site a rink downtown as a draw.
It’s also proper to site the rink for several days on Snoqualmie Ridge. Businesses there could use the extra boost, and the parking and public restrooms at Ridge Community Park, plus the thousands of adjacent young families, could help the Chamber accommodate the kind of interest that could make this thing a real success. If the rink is indeed easily portable, adding that extra venue would help this event do more than just skate by—it could usher in more skating opprtunities, maybe even real ice, in 2015.
Downtown parking, and getting around
Back to the topic of Snoqualmie’s historic district. I’ve had the privilege to be downtown-based for nearly eight years now, and Snoqualmie’s historic district has its charms, especially during the holidays. But with road construction, it can be hard to shop, dine or see the lights and festivals if you don’t know where to park.
Know this: There is still plenty of parking, including:
• Large lot at the corner of Railroad Avenue and King Street
• Stalls along Falls, River Street and King Street
• Lots north of downtown near the Centennial Log
• Angular parking along Railroad Avenue in front of the United Methodist Church.
• Parking in the Snoqualmie United Methodist Church (not on Sundays, please)
Also, downtown sidewalks are open in the Railroad-Falls block, so you will be able to stroll freely.
It’s also worth noting that there is a non-residential detour around the construction zone—Snoqualmie’s Mill Pond Road. Consider it the scenic route. You’re not going to save any time by going that way, but you will see some beautiful fall river scenery. Here’s a tip—go the speed limit. Snoqualmie police recently did a speed emphasis on Mill Pond Road, due to speed concerns. You won’t save any time, and certainly won’t save any money, flying too fast along the Mill Pond.