Snoqualmie City Hall’s grand opening draws praise
January 13, 2010
By Dan Catchpole
The building is built on two decades of reviving Snoqualmie, says mayor.
NEW — 10:55 a.m. Jan. 13, 2010
The sun played peek-a-boo in Snoqualmie Jan. 9 as guests came to the new City Hall’s grand opening.
Snoqualmie Public Works Director Dan Marcinko greeted visitors at the door. Inside, people milled around the lobby and council chambers, talking excitedly and admiring the $6 million building.
Off to the side of the lobby, the color guard — members of the city’s American Legion hall across the street — swapped stories, while they waited for their part in the ceremony.
And it was a ceremony of many parts — veterans, Boy Scouts, Snoqualmie Tribe members, local and foreign dignitaries, and pillars of Snoqualmie Valley’s community — that came together to celebrate the new building.
Like the ceremony, the new building was the product of many people and parts. The pieces started coming together long before there were any specific plans to build a new City Hall.
In the 1990s, Snoqualmie was in financial trouble and in danger of going broke. But city officials began righting the city’s course, making the way for development, growth and prosperity. That growth eventually caused the city to outgrow its old City Hall location, scattering city departments across Snoqualmie. And the newfound prosperity paid for a new City Hall, which gathered those departments again under one roof.
“So many people worked to turn the city around… This is a concrete symbol of all that success over the past two decades,” Snoqualmie Mayor Matt Larson said.
Most of the people who crowded into the City Council chamber for the ceremony are part of Snoqualmie’s growth. Local historian Dave Battey asked people to raise their hands if they were born in the Valley. A few hands went up. He asked how many people had lived here for at least 10 years, and most people in the room put their hands up.
City Hall is a leading part of the city’s revitalization plan for downtown Snoqualmie, Larson said.
“We’ve put our money where our mouth is,” he said.
The building’s neo-traditional design uses newer materials to create a façade that stands in contrast to neighboring buildings, such as the American Legion hall, which dates from the 1890s.
Inside, it emphasizes open space and takes advantage of natural light to create an airy feeling.
The crowd seemed to be impressed with the building.
“It’s much more attractive, much more spacious. It’s something to be proud of,” said Les Kerr.
He and his wife Arlyn have lived in Snoqualmie since 2000.
The building did not come cheaply. Construction delays and other problems pushed the project’s cost to $6 million. Nonetheless, Snoqualmie managed to build City Hall without a bond or raising taxes.
“It’s great that they had the vision and follow through on it,” Arlyn said.
That follow through required some extra work to site the building in downtown Snoqualmie, where the soil, built up by flooding, is loose and can’t support a heavy load without significant measures.
“This was a tough site to build on,” said Chris Duvall, a Snoqualmie resident and structural engineering consultant for the City Hall project. He and his family toured the building during the open house. “I am just happy that it ended up here, in the heart of downtown.”
City Hall’s location is significant, Battey said in his opening remarks.
The former pasture has always been close to Snoqualmie’s core, which after the logging boom catered to “the many, many tourists our forested Valley once drew,” Battey said. Fifty-five years ago, the lot became the site of the city’s volunteer fire department, which also housed City Hall for many years.
Now, drawing tourists is again one of the city’s goals as officials look to further expand the city’s economic potential.
The open house drew many guests from the area and even from Korea. A delegation of city officials from Gangjin, Republic of Korea, were present to sign declarations officially making Snoqualmie and Gangjin sister cities.
While some had reserved seats, not all guests were so lucky. Many people, including Mercer Island Mayor Jim Pearman, had to sit on the City Council chamber floor during the ceremony.
Dan Catchpole: 392-6434, ext. 246, or email@example.com.