Being the sports enthusiast that I am and recognizing that the Valley continues to lack adequate athletic fields for its growing population, I was extremely interested to see the alternative plan for Tollgate Farm.
I would have liked more active recreation facilities, but I recognize that there needs to be a balance between active and passive.
The proposed alternative has two soccer fields and three baseball/softball fields. It contains a large open area to protect the Mount Si viewshed and has plans for some additional active recreation facilities around the old farmhouse.
It is obvious that the committee charged with orchestrating the plan has done quite a bit of work, trying to determine what best meets the needs of Valley residents – after all, we all will benefit from the creation of Tollgate Farm, not just North Bend residents.
Some will probably remember that I disagreed with the purchase of Tollgate using city funds, or even county funds for that matter. But what’s done is done and now we need to ensure that the purchase serves the needs of residents.
Now comes fine tuning the proposal, gathering additional public input and presenting the plan to the City Council.
But there are details that need to be ironed out.
Ball fields require items such as foul-ball fences to prevent injury and keep nonplayers off the fields during play. Look at the inadequacies of the fences at Torguson Park as an example. Proper drainage on fields also is important as the city of Snoqualmie is finding out with Centennial Fields. Is lighting an option to allow higher usage since the number of fields seems minimal? What fees will be charged for various uses such as ball games, the community gathering area or the restored farmhouse? Also, what will be charged for allowing cattle to graze in the pasture-meadow area, or is this considered a no-charge, please-use-it area?
Does the plan pencil out funding sources so that city coffers will not have to be tapped on a large scale to supplement the maintenance of the site? Does the funding of the site make more sense as part of the Si View Metropolitan Park District, or do city residents alone want to bear the costs?
OK, maybe that’s too many questions from an interested party, but the goal is to have the public really look at this latest proposal and make sure it is what it wants. The committee that has done the bulk of the work so far needs to be commended. You have taken input, ideas and constraints and created a well-balanced proposal. As citizens of the Valley and residents of North Bend, we should step forward at the public hearings to applaud their efforts and tell them what we think.
The first public hearing is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. on April 6 at the Mount Si Senior Center. If you would like to see the latest proposal go to www.ci.north-bend-.wa.us and click on the Tollgate Master Plan Alternative C text. For more information on the plan, call City Hall at (425) 888-1211.