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Hello North Bend residents,
Isn’t it amazing that we are already through the first full month of 2022? While City departments are working toward full yearend accounting of all City operations, I wanted to take the time to share with you what I observed as the accomplishments of our small mountain town this past year.
Although some things we thought would change in 2022 – like masks and pandemic related issues – are still part of our everyday life, your elected officials and City staff have not slowed down in our commitment to the livability and character of our small City as it evolves.
2021 proved our resilience. It was the pandemic bounce-back year and we’re looking forward to maintaining our momentum in 2022, knowing we did all we could to sustain our natural beauty and small-town scale as we grow and change.
Let’s take a look back at our 2021 accomplishments….
Infrastructure & Transportation Improvements
Last year started on a positive note, with the County and State giving final approval to our 5-year Water System Plan. This important, detailed plan provides an overview of our facilities, procedures, policies and actions that guide infrastructure projects to ensure we meet our legal obligations to provide safe and reliable drinking water to our current and future customers and residents.
We celebrated the completion of Phase 1 of our Wastewater Treatment Plant High Priorities Improvement Project while simultaneously launching phase 2. This critical two-phase project adds redundancy, improves employee safety, increases treatment and hydraulic capacities, replaces aging facilities and makes important environmental updates that meet stringent Dept. of Ecology requirements that protect our beautiful Snoqualmie River.
We made great progress with our Water Distribution System Leak Reduction Program, replacing hundreds of aging residential water meters and conducting a Leak Study that identified and helped us fix a myriad of leaks deep underground.
Water conservation is a high priority for your elected officials and we’re proud we’re doing our part. This past summer we raised the bar by joining the Seattle Public Utilities Saving Water Partnership. The partnership supports our citywide conservation efforts by offering our residents water saving tools and tips, along with valuable rebates, to help with year-round conservation. As a City, we feel our water conservation policies set a standard for surrounding cities and thank all of you for doing your part to use water wisely.
Another component to reducing leakage is replacing aging watermains that have outlived their lifespan. We have design work nearly finished for the NE 6th Street Watermain Replacement and Street Repair project in the Silver Creek neighborhood and we anticipate the project will break ground later this year.
On the transportation front, we continue working diligently to secure grants, which reduce local taxpayer burden, to improve traffic around town. In addition to the $2.5 million secured in 2020, last year we secured another approximate $1 million in transportation grant funding. These grants will help build new roundabouts at the busy intersections of Bendigo Blvd and Mt. Si Blvd and Bendigo Blvd and 4th Street. Additionally, a developer-funded project is also constructing a roundabout at North Bend Way and 436th. These new roundabouts - which relieve congestion while not leaving you idling at stoplights - are a benefit to you and our environment.
Last year, we were able to repave some roads and reconstruct some sidewalks while working within budgetary constraints. The heavily traveled stretch of Park Street between Bendigo Blvd and North Bend Way got new pavement and numerous sidewalks in Forester Woods were replaced – benefiting drivers and walkers alike. Additionally, we added new channelization striping on Tanner Road to improve safety.
After investing $160,000 in our pilot Sidewalk Reinvestment Program last year and seeing great results in Forester Woods, we doubled the program’s funding in 2022, focusing on more improvements in Forester Woods, the New Si View neighborhood and the downtown corridor.
Thanks to nearly $300,000 in grant funding, design work is also nearly complete for the 2nd Street Sidewalk Improvement project that will replace portions of sidewalks on both sides of 2nd Street between Ballarat Ave and Bendigo Blvd, as well as replace the storm drainage system, watermain, curbs and gutters. It also includes overlay of the adjacent roadway. Construction is anticipated to begin this spring/summer.
A critical component to our transportation improvement momentum is sales tax revenue that funds our Transportation Benefit District, and this past November local voters overwhelmingly renewed this tax that generates over $600,000 for projects that make getting around our City faster and easier. Thank you, North Bend voters!
Community Development Projects
This past year saw a few projects that had been in planning stages for some time advance to construction phase. The Cedar River Partners Project (Dahlgren property) will bring 212 new multi-family homes to our City, along with a new 4-acre city park that will connect to King County’s Tanner Landing Park to provide direct access to Middle Fork Snoqualmie River. The Cade Vu project also began sitework, and will bring 28 new condominiums to our City. It’s been approximately 30 years since any new condos were built in North Bend. These homes will be walkable to downtown and help diversify housing options beyond single family residences.
Framing began late last year for the new, 7-townhome Habitat for Humanity community located on E. 2nd Street in downtown. This project is making homeownership possible for seven families that will soon call North Bend home.
One project that gained a lot of attention this past year was a proposal to locate a dual-brand Wyndham Hotel inside the Outlet Mall. In October, the project – which includes 91 rooms under the La Quinta brand and 31 under the Hawthorn brand – was submitted for planning review. The need for hotel options is a long overdue ask in the community and we are hoping to see the project break ground in 2022.
Other light industrial/commercial business projects in planning review include a new Puget Sound Energy training facility, SeaCon, Alpental Logistics and Bio-Therapeutics, a medical device maker that is looking to relocate to our City. These projects are expected to bring with them living wage jobs.
The new Snoqualmie Valley Athletic Complex in the western portion of the City opened to sporting teams late last year. We are excited about this facility as it not only will help plug local gaps in services it is expected to draw patrons visiting for practices and tournaments to our local businesses.
Last year, Karakoram Snowboard Bindings moved into its newly constructed headquarters behind Napa Auto Parts on North Bend Way. The local owners of this growing company made the decision to stay at home as their business grew, and we’re pleased they decided to invest and stay in our community.
Some other notable storefront business comings in 2021 were Ignition Café, Brit Greenland Art Gallery, Edward Jones Financial, Simpson Group Real Estate, Wells Fargo, Sanctuary (inside Twin Peaks Nutrition), Pearl & Stone Winery (moved inside old City Hall), Valley Center Stage (moved to Sallal Grange). Longtime business Pioneer Coffee celebrated new local ownership, and Falling River Meats is working toward their opening of a storefront right in the heart of the downtown historic business district.
Council Legislation Honored with State Award
Last summer your City Council’s legislation adopting Form-based Code for our Downtown Commercial zone was honored by Gov. Inslee and the Dept. of Commerce with a Smart Communities Award in the Smart Project category. The award-winning North Bend Downtown Commercial Zone project- undertaken by our Planning Department - included innovative form-based code to ensure future redevelopment fits the character of the community while providing more housing options. This is a huge honor for our City and was a collaborative effort of your elected officials and our hard-working staff.
Revenues in 2021 kept us in a much better financial position than anticipated in 2020 and allowed Council to make some very strategic Mid-biennium budget adjustments. Unlike 2020 when we were faced with revenue declines and cutbacks related to the pandemic, 2021 revenue sources were strong.
Last year saw the return of some popular community events. Trick-or-Treat street had record attendance, with kids and parents alike dressed in costume, collecting treats, enjoying live music, and reconnecting with friends.
Holly Days also returned to downtown streets, bringing with it community performances, s’mores by the firepits and rocking around the community tree as it was lit. Even the cold and rain couldn’t dampen the holiday spirit. Thank you to participants in our 2nd annual Light up North Bend Holiday lighting contest. There were some incredible displays that brought cheer to residents.
We launched a new community initiative this past fall, enlisting the help of some very creative 4th graders at North Bend and Opstad Elementary Schools to name our two larger snowplows - Darth Blader and Snowdozer. We will be installing name placards to the plows soon. The plows even made special trips to both schools to announce the winning names.
We’re also pleased to announce that our annual Downtown Block Party will return this July. Planning has commenced, so watch for more details on the City website this spring.
As you can see, 2021 was a great year, propelling us into 2022 with positive momentum. City staff and your elected officials continue with our mission to support and enhance this highly livable community. By working in partnership with our residents, our goals can be achieved, and this beautiful small mountain town will continue to be the unique, vibrant place that we are lucky enough to call home.