On Thursday, August 1, 2019 at 6:30PM the City of Snoqualmie will hold special meeting of the city council to present and discuss the mayor’s proposed six-year non-utility Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) and to review the results of a recent citizen phone survey regarding a possible expansion of the city’s community center. [Note: there is no public comment at the special meeting, but the meeting will be live streamed on the city’s YouTube channel.]
The proposed six-year CIP includes funding for preservation of existing infrastructure like streets and sidewalks and funding for new projects like a community center expansion/pool addition, completing the Snoqualmie Riverwalk and installing pedestrian activated beacons on SR 202 in the downtown corridor.
The city recently hired EMC Research to conduct the survey. EMC also performed a community survey for the Snoqualmie Valley School District to assess support for its 2015 $244 million capital bond. The results from that 2014 survey nearly mirrored the 62% voter approval of the district’s February 2015 capital bond that funded the Mount Si High School rebuild and construction of Timber Ridge Elementary School.
EMC’s Snoqualmie Community Center Expansion phone survey occurred from July 15th to July 29th and drew from a list of all registered voters and Snoqualmie residents. 300 interviews were conducted with +/-5.7% margin of error. Landlines and cell numbers were used.
Approximately 32 questions were asked. In addition to questions about the proposed community center expansion, respondents were also asked general questions regarding city government performance, use of tax dollars and quality of life.
Survey results showed: 68% thought the city was generally heading in the right direction; 90% thought quality of life was either good or excellent; 58% thought city government overall was doing good or excellent; 85% thought positively about the parks system.
The city got its least positive score when it came to whether respondents thought tax dollars were being spent responsibly, with only 45% saying they city did a good or excellent job of spending. 52% thought the city does a good or excellent job of focusing on the priorities that mattered most to them.
As far as perceptions regarding expanding the community center that is operated by the YMCA, 71% thought it was a good idea. When given the general description of the expansion (more exercise and community space, a lap and warm water rec pools) 72% strongly (50%) and somewhat strongly(22%) supported the proposal.
When explained how the expansion would be funded – no new taxes, but with $10 million in existing city revenue contributions, including fund balance and a council-manic bond and [up to] a $2.5 million YMCA contribution – 72% said they somewhat (19%) or strongly supported(54%) it.
When then told that $10 million in funding could be spent on other city projects like sidewalks, street maintenance, transportation or added to the city’s reserve fund, 71% said they strongly (45%) or somewhat (26%) supported the expansion.
When asked about expansion priorities that were the most important to them, respondents ranked a lap pool for lessons, a warm water rec pool, a lap pool for competition and expanded membership subsidies for low income individuals, families and seniors as their highest priorities.
In addition to the expansion description, funding plan and other projects that could be utilize the proposed funding, more information was presented to respondents, including city demographics, the distance to the closest swim lessons, community center/YMCA membership saturation rate, and growth. After presenting all of that information, [overall] 74% of respondents strongly (53%) or somewhat (21%) supported the community center expansion.
One of the final questions weighed support for partnering with the Si View Parks District on a larger, regional aquatics center. Respondents were told that other community center components could still be expanded, but there would be no pool but that the city would contribute $5 million or more to help fund the aquatic center outside the city limits near North Bend. 48% of respondents strongly (18%) or somewhat (31%) supported this option. Of the 51% opposed, 30% were strongly opposed.
When asked if they would be willing to pay slightly more taxes so that fees to use the community center/YMCA could be reduced to be more affordable to all residents, 49% said yes and 45% said no.
On August 1st the Snoqualmie Valley School District launched an aquatics survey to gauge parent and student support for using $2.5 – $5 million in possible leftover  school bond funds to invest in a pool partnership for its high school athletes and other student uses.
In the spring the City of Snoqualmie approached the district asking for an additional $2.3 million to expand the proposed community center lap pool to six lanes for competitions.
Si View has also asked the district to consider partnering, saying is was looking for partner(s) to contribute $10-$15 million to an approximate $36 million aquatic facility. At the time Si View was exploring the possibility of running a possible $20 million bond to fund the rest of the project. Si View also asked the district to consider an option of running a bond for the full cost of the facility and then leasing it to the parks district to run.
Si View is still finishing up a full feasibility study specific of its preferred aquatics facility that parks commissioners voted to examine further. The feasibility plan study will include a business plan, traffic study, site analysis, conceptual drawings and preliminary cost estimate. The study is due later this summer.
If the City of Snoqualmie decides to to pursue the community center expansion using city funds and a council-manic bond, that will require approval by city council.