It took over 10 years to get the Snoqualmie Community Center/YMCA – the promise of the master-planned Snoqualmie Ridge development – built. Three bond were run in 2001, 2006 and 2008 to fund an approximate 30,000 square foot facility complete with a large, indoor pool. But, all three bonds failed to reach the critical 60% supermajority approval rate.
So after the 2008 bond failure, city officials took a different approach to use the $4 million dollars set aside by a the 1998 Snoqualmie Ridge development mitigation agreement – funds, by the way, that could only be used to build a community center.
That $4 million would not build the type of facility a larger capital bond would’ve made possible, but city officials felt it was better to build something than let the millions in mitigation funds sit unused. So they began talks with the YMCA of Greater Seattle to partner on a smaller facility that the city would build and the Y would run.
It proved to be a good move and a great partnership – even setting a collaboration example for other cities to follow.
According to a presentation to the Snoqualmie Ctiy Council at its annual retreat this past week, the Snoqualmie Valley YMCA/ Community Center is often over capacity, with the 13,000 facility bursting at the seams during peak hours.
YMCA Eastside Regional Executive Director Marcia Isenberger described the facility that has one of the top five penetration rates in the United States as having “exceeded expectations.” Currently about 3,500 community members belong to the Snoqualmie Valley Y – with 80% of members living within a three-mile drive.
During the council retreat, Mayor Larson remembered past community center opponents saying the facility wasn’t needed – that it wouldn’t get used enough and couldn’t survive. That it was a bad investment. Parks and Public Works Director Daniel J. Marcinko says those who thought it wouldn’t work should stop by and see it now – witness it for themselves.
Before and after school programs and summer camps are packed. The exercise room bursts during peak hours. The teen room draws kids each day. And the community annually raises thousands to fund scholarships and camp trips for families who couldn’t otherwise afford it.
In its four years of existence, the Snoqualmie Valley YMCA has been such a success that many residents now want to know – “When will you add a pool – make it bigger?”
Snoqualmie Valley YMCA Final Phase Expansion
When the first phase of the Snoqualmie Valley YMCA was constructed in 2012, the final phase was always taken into consideration. The facility was built and situated on the site with a future expansion in mind – one that included a pool, more community rooms, a larger exercise room and a possible second gymnasium and would triple the size of the busy facility.
The big question that lingers now is what type of expansion will the community financially support? Because to make it larger requires running a capital construction bond.
At its recent City Council Retreat, officials said that question is one they are prepared to explore in 2016 – and possibly consider running a bond to fund the expansion in November of 2016 or 2017.
If a bond is run, it’s estimated an expansion could cost about $450 per square foot – and with the city discussing a possible expansion to 35,000 – 50,000 square feet from today’s 13,000 foot facility, it could be a possible $8 – $15 million bond based on the high estimate cost of $450 per square foot to build.
The YMCA of Greater Seattle said it is prepared to use fundraising dollars and grants to possibly contribute to the expansion, but that amount is very speculative and could be limited to about $1.7 million, as it has other King County Y’s it is currently working to open and upgrade – including the new 70,000 sq. ft. Samammish YMCA that is expected to open in April.
In the next few months, as the expansion is explored, the city will most likely consider surveying residents and forming focus groups to determined what programming and facility components are desired, which would help determine the size.
The decision to do start this process has not been approved by the City Council, as there are many other factors to take into consideration. The idea of a final phase will be discussed at an upcoming Parks & Public Works Committee meeting, with public polling requiring formal consideration and approval by the City Council.
But more importantly, that key question would need to be asked of the community – what type of tax increase would it support to see that larger facility, complete with a pool, come to fruition?
City officials were divided as to whether a November 2016 bond date was feasible, as the time line for hiring consultants, polling the community and getting a bond on the November general election ballot would be very tight…. but it was not ruled out.
The size of the final phase would be determined through polling of the community and consideration of other funding that may be available, as well as other factors. The city says the final cost is very much undetermined at this time.
For now, the consensus seemed to be to get out into the community at some point – see what they envision for the Y’s future – and if they’re willing to support that future with their tax dollars.
So be read Snoqualmie – those questions could soon be coming to you.