The Snoqualmie Yahoo! group has been buzzing with discussions about the bond that will be on the November ballot for the community center with a pool.
Questions range from the cost per household to use the facility, to the viability financially for operations. Let’s face it, there is a reason that the county has done everything it can to give away swimming pools; they are expensive and typically run in the red, even when populations are substantially higher than in our area.
The 9,000-square-foot pool being discussed for the community center isn’t really big enough to host competitive swim meets and I even wonder how many classes it will actually accommodate. If our population is going to continue to grow, do we really think the pool is going to be big enough? Do we want to pay for another pool at a future date?
Maybe the city taxpayers want to supplement the maintenance and operation (M&O) costs for the facility for the long term. The community survey seems to indicate that the majority of residents in Snoqualmie are willing to pay for a community center with a pool. What happens if the M&O levy fails one year? Does the center get mothballed?
Another question-raising concern is that Snoqualmie is looking to future growth, beyond Snoqualmie Ridge Phase II, to support its infrastructure. A great question to ask elected officials prior to deciding on the community center is what their vision is for additional growth for Snoqualmie. Are they counting on a Phase III, IV and V to pay the bills and if so, do Snoqualmie residents, and the Valley for that matter, want any additional planned unit developments within its mountainous walls?
We have a significant school levy that will be coming in February. Are we ready to support both levies or do we think that schools should be prioritized over community centers? Why not consider the approach of a phased facility? Build the gymnasium, meeting rooms and fitness facility now, wait on the pool if a regional solution never materializes. The building costs would be much lower and the city would be able to sustain the facility without asking for money from the voters.
There is no doubt that we need more swimming facilities. We need to teach future generations how to swim, but the approach should be regional. The cities in the Upper Valley have always done things together as one community. To have Snoqualmie go forward with a city pool rather than pursue the idea of a regional facility is maybe signaling an end to that era. Will it now be the Upper Valley and then Snoqualmie? (Notice I refrained from saying Snoqualmie Ridge.)
Whatever your thoughts, it’s important you be informed and vote. Read the facts, ask questions and get involved. There’s a great opportunity to learn the facts and find the answers to many of these questions Wednesday, Oct. 18, at 7 p.m. at Cascade View Elementary School. There will be a social, town meeting and community center debate.
The sideline is no place to make decisions when your wallet is open.