The recent announcement that a deal is in the works for the purchase of a portion of the Falls Crossing property is welcome news to my ears. Despite several contingencies that will allow Weyerhaeuser to move toward the development of Phase II on Snoqualmie Ridge, the overall plan is sound.
The deal will give the city a pristine piece of property, vital to the local economy in terms or tourism revenue, and preserve the space for generations to come. Weyerhaeuser has the opportunity to add additional development, which, in the Phase II planning area, could be substantial, and Puget Western will have the opportunity to develop property on the south side of the parkway.
I’m sure there are detractors of the plan out there, possibly concerned that public dollars are being spent to purchase land for open space; hey, I even have those concerns. But in this case, the gateway to the city and potentially negative impacts to tourism are at stake. The investment made in the purchase of this piece of property will come back tenfold to local residents and the city in the form of tourism dollars and a thriving historical downtown.
I read in one news story that even former County Council member Brian Derdowski was concerned about the potential of increased development by Weyerhaeuser. But in fact, as with any political maneuvering, give and take is the key, and in this case, it is likely there are few concerns in the eyes of local residents.
But does the rest of the county – or the state, for that matter – understand the importance of this deal? Not likely, based on story placement in several daily newspapers. This deal is huge to the Snoqualmie Valley. The Falls is one of the most-visited tourist destinations in the state, and despite buffers and viewshed protection, there were no real guarantees that the area would not have visible development.
Even with the apparent win-win situation for the Upper Valley and region, let’s scrutinize every purchase of land by government in the name of open space. It doesn’t make sense in every situation, and let’s make sure our elected officials don’t feel they have carte blanche for future purchases. And let’s not use the purchase of open space to curb development in every case.
But in this case, our elected officials, community corporate members and the Cascade Land Conservancy did the right thing.
Many heartfelt thanks from Valley residents.