Writer comments on Nyberg retirement

Letter to the Editor

As one who has lived a long while in this blessed Snoqualmie Valley,

I would like to comment on the retirement of Weyerhaeuser’s Jim

Nyberg, the “father” of Snoqualmie Ridge.

In the beginning, citizens found the scope of the Jim

Nyberg/Weyerhaeuser Real Estate Co. (WRECO) Master Planned

Development (MPD) so vast it was almost unbelievable. Targeting urban

density development in a rural area was against state, county and

community comprehensive plans. The Snoqualmie Valley was designated to stay rural

“far into the future.”

There are rules to guide growth, but Nyberg/WRECO, in its quest to

realize millions of dollars from residential conversion of its now surplus

forest land, subverted the language of the planning documents and

pretended that 2,200 acres of re-growth plateau land was the “logical expansions

area” for the tiny community of Snoqualmie. They contended that 2,000 houses

and 6,000 people were just the right expansion of the 1,500 city

of Snoqualmie residents! Nyberg/WRECO claimed to address the

concerns of the city of Snoqualmie, but in truth, I believe the main agenda

was profit.

That Nyberg/WRECO could get away with the urban

Snoqualmie Ridge MPD with the support of the former Snoqualmie mayor and staff

is still a puzzle. How could they condone a huge, separate, self-contained

community? (I do recall then City Planning member Chuck Peterson

voted “no” on the ridge proposal and had

an interesting alternative plan, but no takers).

Nyberg/WRECO made lots of promises and cost agreements to

realize their new urban city. I think many were not worth the paper they

were written on. Early on, Nyberg/WRECO paid for the Snoqualmie

Annexation Study that – surprise – said their land should be annexed, but, the city

of Snoqualmie was obligated to reimburse the property owners!

Last year, Nyberg/WRECO tried to justify approval for $60 million

in tax-free bonds for the Snoqualmie Ridge development. The tax-free

debt would save the company $14 million in interest payments over 20 years.

A Seattle newspaper editorialized that this Nyberg/WRECO development

tax break couldn’t pass the smell test. Also, Nyberg/WRECO signed

an agreement that they would not seek to develop an additional 700

contiguous acres for 10 years. Well, they’re going after that property and more

development now.

We will all be interested in watching how Nyberg/WRECO

(and/or their successors) handle all the impacts of their new city. I have a videotape

of an interview with Jim Nyberg, and as the reporter asks about ridge

impacts, Mr. Nyberg keeps repeating, “We will pay for everything we impact.” He

was specifically asked about schools and buses and he continued to reply in

the same manner.

One of the places I will especially remember Mr. Nyberg will be at

the Snoqualmie Falls viewpoint. I will remember the hundreds of houses

he planned for the viewscape to the west. We, Friends of Snoqualmie

Valley, fought Nyberg/WRECO, his Seattle elevator attorneys and PR

people. When we won, I remember him saying it was like a kick in the stomach

to lose those ridge houses.

The 1.5 million Falls visitors should be glad Nyberg/WRECO

lost that battle, as the undeveloped view is a significant economic and

environmental resource to the community and of special value as a sacred place

to our Snoqualmie Tribe members.

I am proud to be remembered as one of the stalwart members of

Friends of Snoqualmie Valley who spent many years trying to prevent the

sprawling of yet another massive development. Although we ultimately lost the

battle, we put up a great fight and made a difference in the final outcome.

In conclusion, I remind Jim Nyberg that what you do is who

you are. He must live with that.

JoAnn Klacsan

North Bend