Community gives feedback on city plans to expand Snoqualmie Community Center/YMCA, add pool

The City of Snoqualmie held a community meeting on Sunday, June 9th to discuss expanding the Snoqualmie YMCA/Community Center. According to City Communications Manager Joan Pliego, about 80 people turned out to share their ideas and concerns. The pool component generated a lot of discussion during the 1.5 hour meeting.

The meeting started with a short (7 minute) presentation from Mayor Larson, showing schematics for how the facility could be expanded. He explained the current facility was sited on the property to allow for a future expansion and that schematics shown were not etched in stone, but more a high-level, broad overview.

After the presentation attendees were broken into small groups representing different demographics of the community (preschool, teens/tweens, high school, young adults, retirees, etc). City employees took notes while each group shared their ideas and concerns regarding the potential expansion. Later those ideas were hung on a wall and a representative from each group introduced what their group’s big ideas and concerns were.

All groups seemed in favor of a pool addition, but different groups had different feedback. As multiple North Bend residents and a Si View Parks Commissioner were in attendance, about 3 of the 12 groups stated they preferred the city to partner on a regional facility with Si View, but most groups did not state a concern with the proposed Snoqualmie location. The majority of groups said the pool should be at minimum 6 lanes so the school could utilize it for competition. It was also requested the pool include a diving tank.

Other feedback included making sure the facility was large enough for all needs – including exercise and weight training, community rooms, group classes, included a full size gymnasium, a larger teen room, a room just for older residents, did not raise taxes, the city provide community outreach regarding funding and future plans. Traffic, parking and free community accesses were concerns brought up in multiple groups.

All Snoqualmie City Councilmembers except Matt Laase were present at the meeting. They mingled throughout tables during discussions and listened to group feedback toward the end of the meeting. All notes taken by city employees were collected by the city communications department at the conclusion of the meeting.

Funding of the facility was not discussed at the advisement of the meeting facilitator. According to Mayor Larson, “The facilitator recommend removing the funding information so as to maximize the time for citizen engagement.”

Larson said the administration is still recommending funding the expansion without a voter approved capital bond. Instead it would be funded by $4 million of city capital funds; a 20-year $6 million ‘councilmatic’ bond that would require the approval of the city council; and $2.5 million from YMCA fundraising and a potential facilities grant.

The city is also pursuing a contribution from the Snoqualmie Valley School District – approximately $2 to $3 million – that would be used to make the planned lap pool a 6-lane competition pool so the high school swim team could use it. Mayor Larson also discussed a possible future spray park near the facility. [See video below]

According to Larson next steps regarding the potential Y/Community Center Expansion, Pool Addition could include:

  • The council requesting a city-wide survey conducted by end of June.
  • A commitment/decision from city council and SVSD by end of summer.
  • Finalize agreements and details between YMCA, City of Snoqualmie, SVSD (if want to partner) by end of year.
  • 2020: focus on final designs, fundraising and permitting
  • Groundbreaking, Spring 2021.
Group sessions at June 9th Snoqualmie Meeting on Community Center/YMCA expansion

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  • I attended this event. Listening to comments made by the attendees, it seemed that everyone felt that the “dry” part of the proposal (exercise rooms, general purpose rooms) is needed. The pool part, as proposed, had a wider variety of opinions.

    It seemed like the majority of those in attendance feel that an aquatic facility somewhere in the area is desirable. However, many expressed that if it comes down to a choice between a lesser pool at the YMCA vs. a really good facility (suitable for competitive use – 8 lanes, diving tank, etc.) in a location that serves more than just Snoqualmie, then they preferred the better facility.

    In particular, many people brought up the plans in progress at Si View Metro Parks District for a significant aquatics facility, as described in the June 9 Living Snoqualmie blog post (

    There were lots of varying thoughts expressed, which was the purpose of the meeting. I wouldn’t characterize it as a majority opinion that a pool at the YMCA is the preferred choice.

    1. Richard Scheel, what is you and your wife’s (Councilmember Peggy Shepard) position? Do you support spending Snoqualmie funds, or increased taxes on a larger facility located in Torguson Park in downtown North Bend? The Si View Park’s District is asking Snoqualmie to invest up to $15M in their proposal.

      1. You can check with Peggy to ask her opinion – I just speak for myself. (She is not a participant on Living Snoqualmie, so you will need to ask her in some other venue.)

        At this time, there is not enough information for me to form an opinion either for or against having a pool at the YMCA. To me, it comes down to the cost of the different alternatives. That includes looking at what other major projects in the city could be done if we do not spend the money on expanding the YMCA. Until financial information becomes available, my first guess would be that there would be economies of scale by collaborating with the Si View Metro Parks District. However, the financial information is not yet available for me to decide which I think is the best choice.

        I believe that it is important to have space in the Snoqualmie area for residents to learn to swim, since we have so much water around us – that is a public safety matter. In addition, I think it would be good to have a pool in the area that can accommodate competitive events such as the Mt Si High School swim team, and I like the idea of having a place where families can have fun in the water, and people can swim laps for exercise. As with anything that would be “good to have”, it comes down to what it will cost (which includes the “cost” of giving up other potential city projects).

  • In the Midwest, it is not uncommon for a city to fund and maintain a swimming pool for the use of its residents. In this case, however, the situation is more complex, since the parties that would fund, maintain, and use the pool are all different. Snoqualmie city politicians probably made the smart choice in deferring the hard question–who will pay for the pool, vs who will get to use it?–until a future meeting.

  • Grandstand much, Mr Mayor? Pretty interesting approach from someone that does not response to similar requests made of you in this and other forums. Don’t get me started on email… never a response. On the other hand, Peggy has called me personally and made her position clear on an issue of concern to this homeowner (namely the ugly and too big hotel that now lurks over the Ridge). Your behavior is pretty transparent to me…

    1. I’ll add that I think we need more facilities… I just find myself disagreeing with the Mayor and his approach… a lot…

  • Matt Larson has responded to every email or question I have sent and he is clearly the preferred mayor for the city as his service history suggests. And how can you be sure the post was even from the real Matt Larson? All besides the points as a pool and larger community center is a clear need for the valley and the City of Snoqualmie. However this plays out as facility large enough for the need is built it is a positive step for the community. Speaking of the hotel, I heard a rumor the old IGA is being considered as a conference center for the hotel due to overwhelming demand. Suppose The City should have built it bigger. And if you want to dig up old history whatever happened to the Dirt Fish lawsuit? Can you believe The City let a bunch of hooligans run amok in an abandoned mill site?

    1. Paul, as someone else who has never gotten a response from an email to the Mayor, not buying what you are selling…

  • This sentence is not fair and or accurate because it implies that North Bend residents and Si View staff disproportionately influenced the outcome somehow: “As multiple North Bend residents and a Si View Parks Commissioner were in attendance, about 3 of the 12 groups stated they preferred the city to partner on a regional facility with Si View, but most groups did not state a concern with the proposed Snoqualmie location.” I attended the meeting and stayed silent to intentionally observe the discussion of others at my table since I serve on Si View’s board. I observed many residents of Snoqualmie suggesting that a larger pool would better meet the needs of the entire Valley and suggesting the City consider partnering with Si View. The format of the meeting was very openly asking what features would be desired for specific user groups. It definitely did not specifically ask for feedback on the proposed YMCA site on the Ridge. Please don’t draw conclusions in your article to mischaracterize what actually happened. If we want the best possible outcome for our community, we need to figure out how to work together to identify the needs of the entire Valley.

  • Linda Grez, the article should have stated that there were “two” Si View Commissioners present. And while I did observe that you were quietly and respectfully listening, your fellow commissioner was fully participating and offering (often negative) opinions without identifying his position with the Si View Metro Parks District.

    1. In 12 years as the Executive Director for Si View Metropolitan Park District I’ve never commented on social media. I want people to remember this isn’t a competition. This should be a process/decision in which we determine the best use of the communities limited resources to build a facility that meets the current need and the needs well in to the future. This isn’t a check the box. A few things to consider. 2/3’rds of the population of the upper valley live within Si View MPD boundaries. Si View already has pool staff and a model operating in the valley. No final site has been chosen for the feasibility study conducted by Si View MPD. In fact multiple sights will be analyzed in the final report. We have offered to look at sites in the boundaries of the City limits of Snoqualmie if they want to partner and we’ve looked at sites outside the city limits of Snoqualmie if they don’t. We’re open to both. The cost estimates for each proposal are drastically different due to the anticipated cost per square foot of construction. We believe it’s higher due to the fact the Seattle area is the 6th most expensive place for construction in the entire world right now. So it’s not apples to apples. We also haven’t refined our costs yet because we’re only half way through our study. We want a facility that is community driven. That’s why we are performing a comprehensive study. We reached out to the City of Snoqualmie to partner with us on the study last year. At first they said yes, but then they said no after a couple months. The last thing anyone wants is a facility that is inadequate the moment the doors open and that creates barriers for participation. I can speak for Si View. If you want to know what we’re doing please call or email me and I’d be happy to discuss our plans moving forward. Any information outside of that is rumor or conjecture.

      1. Nice explanation to a Snoqualmie Mayor that has only offered petulant rebukes of others in this thread. Snoqualmie needs a real Leader. Mr Mayor, if you care to offer some real information and explanation regarding… by all means, jump right in.

        1. Eric, like Paul said the posts claiming to be the Mayor could be anyone even by you perhaps?;) Until there is some convincing verification by the poster I’m not convinced it really is him. Assuming it is him however he did offer some real information in the first post claiming, “The Si View Park’s District is asking Snoqualmie to invest up to $15M in their proposal.” I believe that would be about the total cost of the community center expansion which isn’t realistic then as the center badly needs an expansion even if a pool wasn’t included. I’m not connected to the design team enough to know if a community center expansion without a pool is even an option being considered. It seems we all agree a aquatic center is a great idea but I believe we are diving a little too deep into the details right now. Let’s see what each team delivers as the process continues and then we can haggle publicly over it. At the moment both proposals are barely even off the ground.

  • Thanks for the fair, accurate write-up of the meeting, Danna!
    I was there to support the YMCA plan and I was NOT alone! Everyone at my table, as well as everyone I spoke with separately supports the plan for a pool at the YMCA. Folks who have taken to social media or blog comment threads to project an anti-growth agenda on a community that WANTS this pool are doing a disservice to our town. Thank you to the YMCA Board and the City Council for hearing residents’ calls for a pool!
    PS. If you don’t believe me, zoom in on the notes posted above. Look at the HUGE support for the pool. The majority of comments are about pool temperature, size, or other attributes. There are no calls to halt its progress!

  • Why does everyone keep calling the private corporation YMCA facility a “community center”? It’s not a community center – it’s a business and you need a membership to enter and use the facilities. I’m against using city money to fund a private corporation’s facility so that corporation can charge us again to use it.
    As for a pool, yes, I would like to see a year round competition sized pool in the Snoqualmie Valley. We don’t need two though – we aren’t big enough for that. If Si View builds one, that should be the only one.

    1. Based on the Si View plans, this is the facility that I and my family would actually use, despite my being closer to the YMCA. Snoqualmie should partner with North Bend.

  • Living Snoqualmie