Partners ponder future for Snoqualmie Valley's Meadowbrook Farm, now at a turning point
A split vote on funding part of a business plan for Meadowbrook Farm Oct. 21 followed an expansive discussion among North Bend’s City Council on the city’s investment in, and obligation to, the historic property.
The 460-acre farm sprawled along S.R. 202 between Snoqualmie and North Bend, is jointly owned, and funded at an annual amount of $20,000, by the two cities, along with a volunteer group, the Meadowbrook Farm Association. Since the association was formed 16 years ago, the farm has grown into a popular event venue, and beyond the abilities of the volunteer group to manage it, says association President Mary Norton.
“We’ve reached our limit in what we can do with volunteers,” Norton told the city council, during the discussion. “I think this business plan will be a really helpful thing for we and the cities to decide what’s the next step.”
The proposed business plan is intended to help the partners determine how to increase revenues, staff the facility, and fund it long term, said North Bend planning staff.
The group published a request for proposals, and received one response, a bid of $15,000 from Beckwith Consultants, making each partner’s share of the cost $5,000.
Several council members felt that $15,000 was high for a business plan. Councilman David Cook suggested re-advertising the project to receive more, and possibly less expensive, bids.
Councilman Alan Gothelf was also concerned about the future cost to the city, resulting from potential recommendations of the plan to make improvements at the property.
“Is the council ready to spend the money that it’s going to take? I’m not sure,” he said.
Councilwoman Jeanne Pettersen acknowledged the other council members’ concerns, and agreed that “we have some decisions to make.”
She supported the business plan, saying that the cost was not too much for the quality of work they knew to expect from the consultant, and “With any investment, you have to put something into it, eventually.”
Pettersen also expressed her hopes that the farm could potentially become self-supporting in the long term.
Councilmen Gothelf and Cook voted in opposition to the city’s contribution of $5,000, but the action was approved, 5 to 2.
Since the cities jointly purchased the property 20 years ago, they have shared the annual maintenance costs. Each city currently contributes $10,000 for farm upkeep.