Plans for climbing tower in North Bend change again
May 14, 2009
By Michael Rowe
Plans for the centennial climbing tower in North Bend’s Torguson Park are growing in both size and cost.
City Council members approved a design concept for the climbing tower at their May 5 meeting. The design concept will expand the planned climbing structure from 1,200 square feet to 1,600 square feet.
The new price tag for the structure is approximately $190,000, an increase of $40,000 over the original $150,000 cost city and community leaders were fundraising for. However, costs per square foot will actually be lower for the larger structure than for the smaller one. Contractor Rockwerx told the city that a 1,200-square-foot structure would cost $105 a square foot, whereas a 1,600-square-foot structure would cost $95 for a square foot.
The City Council preferred the look of the larger structure. City Administrator Duncan Wilson said that the larger climbing tower would have a greater presence and would be more proportionate to the park and Mount Si.
The design features an arch, and routes for different skill levels of climbers. The climbing tower’s exterior is being designed to look like the granite face of Mount Si.
City Councilman Dee Williamson described the chance to expand the climbing tower as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
“I think it will be a jewel in our city,” Williamson said.
Councilman Alan Gothelf asked if the new tower would accommodate different skill levels of climbers. Williamson, a self-proclaimed avid climber, said that with more space, climbing routes for different skill levels could occupy the same space on the rock. He said that larger handholds for beginning climbers could be mixed with the small handholds used by expert level climbers.
“This is going to be an attractive feature of the city, and we’ll get people coming here specifically to climb the tower,” Councilman David Cook said.
Cook went on to say that the climbing tower has the potential to outlive the current city government and to be a part of the city’s park system for many years.
Wilson told the council that selecting the design of the tower would help him know how much money will need to be raised to pay for the project. The city plans to pay for the project through a variety of sources including: a $65,000 recreation grant from King County, a recent $10,000 donation from the North Bend Parks Foundation, a $1,000 donation from an unnamed North Bend resident, and $35,000 in budgeted city dollars.
Wilson told the council that if fundraising efforts did not cover the remaining cost for the project that the city could dip into its contingency funds. Councilman Loudenback said that he hoped it did not come to that.
“If you are going to do it, do it right,” Councilman Rosen said.
The climbing tower will be about 31 feet tall at its highest point. The base of the tower will be about 20 feet wide and six feet deep. Climbing routes will be placed on all sides of the tower. The final design of the structure is not complete, and it is possible that some details may change as the process moves along.