Northwest NEWS

December 2, 2002


Duvall is now at a crossroads

Our first encounter with the small town of Duvall was at the culmination of a Sunday drive we took on a sunny autumn day. We were driving on SR203 through Preston and the small towns of Fall City, Carnation and Duvall, a route used by many seeking a leisurely drive in the country. We were especially charmed by Duvall with its siting on a hill overlooking the Snoqualmie Valley. Several years later we purchased a home in Duvall within walking distance of downtown and have lived here for almost six years. Our decision to locate in Duvall was based on our desire to live in a place with a sense of community and distinctive flavor that offset the sameness that pervades "Anywhere, USA."
   Duvall is now at a crossroads. Even though its physical location and a river that floods helps to preserve its rural character, the ever-relentless wave of development is constantly knocking at its door. Its comparatively lower housing prices lure many who are seeking nothing more than a bedroom community. But Duvall is also blessed with an active core of citizens who are seriously committed to helping guide its future course. Presently they are trying to save the Thayer barn, a structure generously donated to the city for use as a new community arts center. An enlightened developer, Newhall Jones, is ready to use the barn as the centerpiece of a new multi-use village with condominiums, live/work units for artists, and commercial space. The barn will sit on a 1/3-acre parcel of land generously donated by the developer and have unobstructed views of the Snoqualmie Valley.
   In order to meet its new agenda as a community arts center, the barn must undergo a transformation. The upper portion of the barn must be removed and placed on a new foundation and first floor, greatly increasing the amount of useable space. At this juncture, barn supporters are looking to the City of Duvall to give its blessing to the project with a commitment of $200,000. The Duvall Foundation for the Arts (DFA) will raise an additional $100,000 to carry out the initial phase. Without the initial seed money from the City, it will be difficult for DFA to request support from other funding sources.
   Unfortunately, the vision and enthusiasm of the Barn supporters has not necessarily been shared by all the members of the City Council. Some members seem unable to look beyond the immediate demands of more basic infrastructure, such as roads and a sewage treatment plant. These are important items and the economy is currently not the most robust, but it would be a tragedy if this unique opportunity were not seized. An active community arts center will attract visitors to Duvall and have a positive economic impact. It will be a place where theater, music, dance and the visual arts can thrive through classes, workshops and performances.
   We strongly urge the City Council to make this modest budget commitment to save a symbol of the heart and soul of Duvall.
   Karen and Larry Bergeron, Duvall