Northwest NEWS

December 25, 2000

Front Page

Novelty Bridge, rock quarry dominated news of the past year

* Y2K worries disappeared after the New Year
   by Lisa Allen
   Valley View Editor
   The year 2000 began with what turned out to be the world's most prepared for non-event ‹ Y2K. Dire predictions had airplanes crashing and lights going out everywhere. Many residents had stockpiled food and other supplies in preparation for what they expected to be a worldwide computer crash.
   After it turned out to be a dud, residents of the Valley returned to worrying about what they would have to face in their own neck of the woods in the coming year. Among the questions ‹ would the closure of the Novelty Bridge result in the mother of all traffic jams? Would the rock quarry proposed for the Cherry Valley area bury Duvall under a mountain of dust? Or, will a new freeway cut the Valley in two?
   The answer to the first question came shortly after NE 124th was closed in March for the Novelty Bridge replacement. The first couple of days were gridlock, then "things shook out" like the engineers said they would.
   Motorists found other routes or left at different times of the day. Traffic was bad, but not terrible. King County traffic engineers had made some revisions to roads and signals, which helped motorists keep moving. Still, for seven months, drivers ached for relief. Early morning commutes seemed to be the worst.
   But it was all over in October when the new and much wider Novelty Bridge was completed and opened to traffic. One question lingers, though ‹ why didn't engineers install a left- turn lane on the westbound lane of Woodinville-Duvall Road going onto West Snoqualmie Valley Road?
   Also on the minds of residents early last year was the proposed Duvall Rock Quarry. Over two hundred neighbors turned out at a meeting in January to tell county officials that the quarry could adversely affect the area aquifer and Cherry Creek and cause excess dump truck traffic, dust and noise.
   Now, almost a year later, although the applicants still fully intend to develop the quarry, the project is on hold pending a lawsuit that will be heard in April in King County Superior Court.
   At issue is whether the owners of the 83-acre property complied with a p-suffix condition in the mineral zoning of the property which requires that landowners who wish to mine their property initiate a study or a "site specific proposal" within two years of the implementation of zoning. The property was zoned "mineral" in 1995.
   The King County Department of Developmental and Environmental Services (DDES) insists that the proponents did enough work to comply with the p-suffix condition. But Friends of Cherry Valley (FOCV), a group opposing the quarry, filed a lawsuit last spring that claimed the landowners did not actually initiate a study during the necessary time frame.
   Clarise Mahler, FOCV president, said the judge did not make a decision during a hearing last spring, instead remanding the issue back to DDES to make a decision, adding some extra guidelines.
   "DDES then decided in the applicant's favor," said Mahler. "But our stand is that the judge never got to review that decision. The basis for our appeal is that we are asking the judge to review the work."
   Mahler said that the applicant has not begun work on the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) or done anything else while they wait out the appeal. The trial is set for April 30.
   Mahler said FOCV will start having regular public meetings on the second Tuesday of every other month beginning in February. The meetings will be held at Cherry Gardens Community Club at 7 p.m. Those interested can also log on at cherry-valley.net.
   Other news in January that shocked the Valley community was the announcement from Nestlé, owners of the former Carnation Farms, that the company was phasing out the farm portion of the Farms. The change would complete its transition from a working farm to a training facility for its employees.
   Most of the milking herd was sold and many employees laid off. The longtime popular public tours were cancelled, but the company said it planned to continue guided tours of the facility for schoolchildren.
   Carnation Farm began in 1910 as a dairy breeding farm. With its fine buildings, animals and beautiful setting, it was the showplace of the Valley, drawing tourists from around the world. It hosted events ranging from horse and cattle shows for both professionals and 4-H groups to political shindigs, such as Rep. Jennifer Dunn's annual Labor Day Republican picnic.
   In February, state Department of Transportation officials visited Duvall to discuss a study of an old proposal for an additional north-south freeway designed to ease congestion on I-5 and I-405, possibly through or east of Duvall.
   Officials said the study, which did not offer any recommendations, was forwarded to the legislature, but they explained that there is no place east of Duvall that wouldn't be environmentally impacted by a new freeway.
   The city was told by state officials that it could protect its interests by restricting the number of lanes through town when it updated its comprehensive plan. The city was at that time considering a four-lane option for Main Street that town officials felt might be necessary some time in the future, considering the increasing impacts of traffic. But residents and business owners were so dead-set against the possibility that the town could be cut in two that the City Council removed the option in the 2000 Comp Plan amendments that were recently passed.
   Later in February, Carnation residents were encouraged to voice their opinions on a proposed sewage treatment plant. Although many were opposed to sewers, fearing growth would damage the small community, most residents and city government agreed that without sewers the business section, which has suffered from permitting problems due to septic limitations, would continue to flounder. The city continues to work towards developing a sewage treatment plant.
   In March, while Duvall residents were adjusting to life without the Novelty Bridge, a lawsuit stopped work on the Safeway project. A neighboring business, Boxhill Farm, sued Safeway and the city, claiming traffic impacts to their nursery business needed to be looked at further. Studies later concluded that proper fencing along the highway in front of the nursery would effectively mitigate the effects of traffic. The Safeway project was delayed for several months, but finally resumed with opening set for January.
   In May, the dream of a pool in the Valley dried up with the announcement by the Valley Recreation Association (VRA) that consultant studies had determined a facility would not pay for itself considering the number of residents who would be using it.
   The VRA had decided to pay a consultant for a study after years of fund-raising for the pool. The Association had begun over a decade ago as the Eastman-Rush Foundation after two young men drowned in the Snoqualmie River in the same year.
   In June, Duvall's McCormick Park was dedicated just in time for the annual Sandblast celebration on the banks of the river, and in August an archeological find in Fall City stopped work on a county soccer field. During that time, plans for a youth center in Duvall's old police station also began to come together.
   Late in the summer, the Evergreen Healthcare Board of Commissioners informed Duvall-area residents during two public hearings that the district had been considering the possibility of annexing the area into the hospital district (King County Hospital District No. 2).
   It had been brought to the commissioners' attention by a group of local professionals that Duvall has not had a medical facility for over two years and annexation would mean a clinic would be built in the town. Being part of the district would also mean a property assessment of about $78 for a $200,000 home.
   The response from the community was positive, which cleared the way for the annexation proposal to be placed on the November ballot.
   The proposal passed, and now Evergreen Healthcare would like to include residents in the planning phase of the clinic. Two public meetings are scheduled for Wednesday, Jan. 10, 3-5 p.m. and 7-9 p.m.at the downtown fire station.
   Duvall residents also passed a fire district bond that will build a new fire station in town and replace two outlying stations with one more centrally located.
   But the year did not end on a good note for Riverview School District or its young athletes, after the fifth try at passing athletic facilities at Cedarcrest High School went down to defeat at the polls, by about 20 votes.
   The school is several years old now and its athletes have consistently had to make do with the over-used facilities at Tolt Middle School or even travel out of the area to practice or compete.
   At the Dec. 12 school board meeting, a frustrated resident told the board that his advice to anyone "who has kids in middle school or younger, and they have any athletic desires, would be to move to some other district, because a change in the situation here is very unlikely, in my opinion, for some time to come."