Washington State 5th District legislators, including Sen. Mark Mullet, Rep. Lisa Callan, and Rep. Bill Ramos, recently visited the Snoqualmie Community Center to learn more about the City’s planned capital improvement project to expand the facility and add an aquatics center. They were joined by Mayor Katherine Ross and other City Councilmembers on this exploratory tour.
Facilitated by the YMCA of Greater Seattle Facilities Director Josh Sutton, alongside Mayor Ross, the tour emphasized the center’s historical ties with the YMCA of Greater Seattle. The YMCA had previously been in the valley from the 40s until the early 70s when that building was closed down. Mayor Ross noted the city envisions a community center to be a central connection or a point for all residents to come, similar to the Snoqualmie Falls Camp and YMCA in the 1930s.
Moreover, the upcoming plans for the center, which include expansion and the introduction of an aquatics center, were detailed. These additions aim to address the increasing community health, wellness, water safety, and swimming education requirements.
Following the tour, a Council Roundtable was conducted where Reps. Callan and Ramos shed light on state-level legislative priorities and budgetary provisions for 2024. Topics like the community center’s expansion, affordable housing, and policing reforms were at the forefront of the discussion.
During the roundtable, Mayor Ross expressed, “We are very appreciative of our 5th District legislators taking time from their busy schedules to tour the community center and learn about our plans to expand the facility and bring much-needed aquatics and community programming space to our City,” said Ross. “The opportunity to connect during the Council Roundtable also offered a deeper understanding for both our Council and State Representatives of city and state priorities.”
The City Council approved a design contract for the Community Center Expansion project with Absher Construction in August. As the design phase progresses, multiple design options are expected to be shared with the City Council this Fall.
According to Public Works and Parks Director Mike Chambless, the concept photos represent a 37,000-square-foot facility that would include a six-lane competition pool, a shallow water play pool, and a lazy river where those who can benefit can swim against the current, among other features.
The design is loosely based on the Skagit Valley Family YMCA, and Chambless says, “All in all, it’s a fantastic design.” Another proposed design feature is the connection from the facility to the Ridge retail district with a new accessible walkway connected to the existing crosswalk.
**Please note: These are NOT final designs but rather conceptual images for an initial facility expansion design option. **
Funding for the Community Center Expansion Project is a segment of the City’s approved Capital Improvement Plan, with $15 million in project funding appropriated in the current biennial budget. Notably, King County has granted $1 million for this purpose. While the City owns the community center, it is the non-profit YMCA of Greater Seattle that operates it, ensuring its accessibility to all.
YMCA of Greater Seattle Facilities Director Josh Sutton noted that the Snoqualmie YMCA now has about 820 households with memberships; it hosts before and after school programs for two elementary schools and runs a summer camp near the Tokul roundabout. The current facility added a portable a few years ago to have enough room for kids’ programs.
At the Block Party in early September, the YMCA and City staff had a joint booth to answer questions about the newly approved splash pad and community center expansion projects. Sutton noted that the idea of expanding and adding a pool had strong community support.
The project will add 24,000 sq. ft, including an aquatics facility and more non-aquatics health and wellness space, to the existing facility. Additionally, the City continues to pursue partnerships with local organizations and state grant funding for the expansion.
The pressing need for this expansion becomes evident when considering the 30% population growth in the area since 2012 and the inadequacy of the current aquatics space. The Snoqualmie Valley is also severely deficient in aquatics space to meet the demand for vital swimming and water safety education, with only one 85-year-old small pool to serve the community.
For those interested in more details or have questions about the Community Center Expansion project, they can visit www.snoqualmiewa.gov/639/Community-Center-Expansion.