The Edwards Agency

Opinion

County spending in North Bend is folly

county spending How selfish my friends in North Bend seem: $12,000,000 to buy Tollgate Farm. The county will pay $5,000,000. Why? Why so much for a few acres of alder next to Nintendo and the Factory Outlet Mall? Especially when North Bend luxuriates at the foot of magnificent Mt. Si, and is surrounded by forest and open farmlands wherever one looks.
   Why, when taxpayers have just shelled out an outrageous $4,300,000 for the 304- acre Meadowbrook Farm, do you clamor for yet another? How inglorious!
   I am in favor of open space for urban areas. But, my God, friends, North Bend is a rural city and it abuts forests and farmland on all sides. Why do you ask that precious taxpayer dollars go to buy this farm? A farm you just had to have included in the city limits only seven years ago.
   What is Tollgate? 228 acres! There is a 140-acre farm near Duvall for sale for $450,000. Another farm near Carnation that is larger is selling for $600,000.
   If you wanted Tollgate to be a farm or to be open space, what folly led you to first annex it and zone it for commercial and residential development? It now costs 20 times what it was worth as a farm. Where was the thinking then? Where is the thinking now?
   If you truly want to preserve the rural lands in King County, ask that the funds be used to build ballfields in the urban core of the county. Or ask that the money buy development rights to protect the rural farms and forests. Yes, on this, Maxine Keesling is right. This is just folly.
   Had you left Tollgate and Meadowbrook in the county as farmlands, they might be working farms today. They would be zoned 10 to 35 acres. North Bend would have a rural setting that included these farms to complement the majesty of the forested hills and spectacular Mt. Si. The county could have purchased the land for the going rate for farmland, not at exorbitant costs for urban commercial and residential land. For shame! For shame!
   Think of that $12,000,000 being used to build youth centers, renovate swimming pools, create art and craft programs, or preserve working forests and farms that protect rural lands for generations to come. How much more glorious a service to our community! How much better a gift for our children!

Steve Hallstrom, Carnation