[Guest Op/Ed Post by Mark Joselyn, Si View Metropolitan Park District Commissioner, 2003 – present, North Bend City Council since 2022. Susan Kelly, Si View Metropolitan Park District Commissioner 2003-2011, 2016-present and Linda Grez, Si View Metropolitan Park District Commissioner, 2008 – 2019 – Views expressed are those of the authors, not the Living Snoqualmie website. You may submit letters to the editor or opinion posts to email@example.com]
Our beautiful Upper Snoqualmie Valley continues to beckon newcomers who move here and come to call it home. Welcome. Other folks have lived here for a long while – some for generations. Hello to you. Let us share the story of one of our most beloved community places – Si View Pool – how it got here, the lives it has changed, and why it is ready for ‘retirement.’
Funding its replacement offers an opportunity to pass on a legacy to future Valley residents and to build a modern facility to better meet our community’s need and demand for access to aquatics for all ages and abilities.
Si View Pool, in North Bend, has served generations of Upper Valley residents. It is a legacy left to us by the federal Public Works Administration established to help pull our country out of the Great Depression. What an incredible gift it was, and continues to be, to our community.
Opened in 1938, Si View Pool has greatly benefited us and our predecessors. Generations of Valley residents have learned to swim at Si View Pool. Hundreds of high school students have been trained as lifeguards there. The pool was built to support the population of a small logging town. We know swim lessons save lives, yet hundreds of Valley children and adults are waitlisted at the Si View Pool every session, hoping for an opportunity to learn this important life skill.
The community has outgrown our pool, but what a gift those who built our current Si View Pool left to us! A pool that is both too small to meet demand and too old to be kept running. Its cracked shell and ancient mechanical systems are costly, relying on obsolete parts. Our pool is on borrowed time.
The summary of this narrative might be encapsulated in this brief tale of well-known valley icon Gardiner Vinnedge. Gardiner, a long-time and deeply revered Valley resident and historian, died recently at the age of 72. Gardiner lived most of his life in North Bend and invested endlessly in others. In 2013, he was named North Bend Citizen of the Year.
Gardiner was one of the five people initially elected to the Si View Metropolitan Park District (SVMPD) Board of Commissioners in 2003. At an early meeting of the Board, Gardiner told a story; he was a historian after all. He explained with a grin that when he was growing up and had his first chance to ride his bike alone to go anywhere, it was to ride to the Si View Pool.
Si View Pool was built by local folk working for the Civilian Conservation Corps and the Public Works Administration. There were about 600 residents in North Bend when the pool opened in 1938. King County operated the park and the pool for decades. At some point, the balcony around the gym and the window looking down on the pool were closed.
In 2002, a change in vision prompted by limited revenue for parks led King County to divest its smaller local parks and community centers. Sixteen pools throughout King County were threatened with closure. Many did close, including the Si View Community Center and Pool. It was shut down and boarded up. King County walked away. This Center and Pool had never been shut down before.
In response, citizens of the Upper Valley came together to save our beloved Community Center and Pool. They organized a ballot proposition to form the regional Si View Metropolitan Park District, a taxing district like a school district or fire district, imbued with certain powers and authority under state law.
The measure to create the Park District passed with a remarkable 73% approval in February 2003. Our community responded to the closure by voting overwhelmingly for the creation of the Si View MPD with a mission to reopen, protect, and preserve Si View Park and Pool.
This is the mantel the Si View MPD took up when it was created over 20 years ago. It has grown to serve thousands, hosting 189,766 visits in 2022. The focus from inception was to not bite off too much, to listen carefully to residents, and to do things well. This includes the provision of quality programming and maintaining functional, well-cared-for facilities.
The Si View MPD works hard to survey and listen to constituents and user groups in its efforts to improve the quality of life for those who live, work, and play in this beautiful Valley. The Park District has grown to manage multiple facilities and persistently strives to promote and maintain green infrastructure in our community, like trail connections, trail access points, and park facilities.
It has done all this while managing its finances to earn an AA bond rating and receive consistently clean state audits. There is a rich and precious history to the commitment this Valley’s residents have devoted to creating, maintaining, and growing our community and the Si View MPD. It is a legacy for all of us. Thank you.