Letter | Save Club Tolt: Preserve 42 Years of Community and Celebration in Carnation, WA

[Letter by Morgan Henley. Views expressed are those of the authors, not the Living Snoqualmie website. You may submit letters to the editor or opinion posts to info@livingsnoqualmie.com]

Henley Henn Haus’s historic property on the Tolt River in Carnation, WA, needs your help. Since July 4th, 1982, the property, coined “Club Tolt,” has been a place of community gathering, live music events, beach volleyball (Valleyball Sundays), weddings, memorials, potlucks, & other forms of celebration.

The iconic Club Tolt has held multiple events a year since 1982 & is now the home of the award-winning PNW’s musicians festival, BrodieNation Music Festival (founded in 2006). Recently, we’ve come under the view of King County. We need to apply for a permit to continue this historic place of community gathering. We are going for a Director’s Decision, which is basically a “Grandfather Clause.” We fit the definition of the permit, and I don’t think we should pay thousands of dollars for something we’ve already been doing for 42 years.

To do this, we have to prove that we’ve been holding more than two days of events a year since 1991, which we have continuously done since 1982. Club Tolt has held space for anywhere between 4 and 25 gatherings annually for over four decades. King County has no other private property with 42 years of storied celebration and community gathering.

If you’re one of the thousands of people and musicians who have held space at Club Tolt throughout the years, please consider signing this petition. We need to convey to the County that this property is a cherished piece of our Snoqualmie Valley history and that we, as a community, want this land of gathering and celebration to continue for future generations.

That said, I’ve received no threats from the County, and our conversations thus far have been professional and fair. They are not threatening to shut down BrodieNation. Apparently, we’re only allowed two days of events at our property a year without a specialty use permit. How this was never discussed in the 33 years since the codes were created is beyond me, but here we are.

Photo Credit: Travis Wetherbee-Last Lite Photography

Many of you probably want to know how this came about. I’ll say, in short, we had a neighbor (they’re redacted in the complaint, so I can’t figure out who they are, but by the verbiage of their complaint, they are new to the Valley) who decided that one car parked on the right side of the road with a tire on the pavement is a hazard to the safety of the road. Even though parking on the right side of the road is legal, we’ve done it for 42 years with no problems. We also have many signs warning people that there is an event ahead.

The initial complaint came during the BrodieNation Music Festival, and a second complaint, with a picture of the tire on the pavement, came two weeks later when we had a memorial with 60 people for our good friend Greg Marx. Yes, complaining about a memorial. The complainant even said they could hear the memorial speeches from the road. Unbelievable. Someone who would complain to a government entity about a memorial with 60 attendees is far beyond my ability to comprehend.

From these complaints, code enforcement realized I’m having a four-day event, which is two over my allotted amount for the year. Even though we’ve been having multi-day events since 1982, the first event, on July 4th, 1982, was a three-day celebration of America.

Photo Credit: Travis Wetherbee-Last Lite Photography

The moral of this story is that if you have a problem with your neighbor, talk to your neighbor, and don’t involve the authority until you absolutely have to. Otherwise, like in this case, you could be causing far worse implications than a tire on the road. The worst-case scenario is that one tire could stop 42 years of celebration on the Tolt River. One tire could end a place where positive memories & lifelong friendships are made. One tire could end a place where thousands of musicians have shared their talents. One tire could end 42 years of community history, culture, heritage & celebration. One tire could end my family’s legacy. I’m not kidding when I say there is no other property like Club Tolt in King County. The history of gathering, community & connection is unmatched. Possibly in the entire State.

I can’t begin to explain what this has done to me mentally in the past months. I felt sick last night while writing the petition verbiage. I’ve teared up a number of times just writing this post. This notion makes me sick. Makes me mentally anguished. I can’t imagine a more deflating scenario than not getting this permit. Mainly because I don’t understand why this is happening. We’ve done this for 42 years. I work with my neighbors to make Brodie run as efficiently as possible & for the most part, we’ve had very few problems over the years.

Everything I do in this community is because I was raised on this property, the unique environment of community & celebration. Imagining one coward’s complaint could end all that is mind-blowing to me. So, to make sure that doesn’t happen, we need your signature. So, if you’ve enjoyed Club Tolt over the decades, please take a second to sign the petition. Share it with others who may want to help out. If you have the time, there’s a comment section of the petition; feel free to write a blurb on when you first attended an event there and what the property means to you.

Photo Credit: Travis Wetherbee-Last Lite Photography

I have evidence of our longevity through my father’s old event posters, and I’ve had testimonials written by people who’ve played a part in the property’s history. If you’d like to write a testimonial, please contact me. This petition is to show the county how important this venue is to our community, and let’s be honest; it is beyond our community of the Snoqualmie Valley. Literally, tens of thousands of people have held space at Club Tolt over the decades. We legitimately have some of the best musical talent in the PNW grace our stages at BrodieNation. The importance of Brodie to the local music scene is indescribable. There’s no other place like this in WA.

I know some of you are wondering if the 20th edition of Brodie is canceled. As of now, it is not. We will move forward with everything as usual until we can’t. But, in the meantime, please sign this petition. That will help us achieve our goal. Much love to y’all. Mum and I appreciate you.

Petition – https://chng.it/KwDXDtKgR7

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