Thursday, January 28, 2010

New restrooms for the Depot

The Northwest Railway Museum’s Snoqualmie Depot receives about 90,000 visitors per year. Most arrive as families and many have young children. In those families, most decisions about family outings are made by mothers. Not surprisingly, most mothers rate clean, safe and accessible restrooms as essential to a successful and repeatable family outing.

The existing depot restrooms were constructed in 1979 as a component in the original Depot restoration. Over the last 30 years, these restrooms have served an estimated 2.5 million visitors. Despite a number of minor upgrades, the restrooms are at the end of their design life. In addition, they were constructed prior to passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) and consequently are not technically accessible.

Over the last decade or more, the City of Snoqualmie has conducted a number of surveys, studies and development plans intended to help guide downtown redevelopment. Accessible and clean public restrooms have consistently rated highly. So new public restrooms were accepted as a city priority and Snoqualmie City Council – on the recommendation of the Lodging Tax Advisory Committee - designated lodging tax revenues to fund the project.

So it has been a priority of the Museum and the City of Snoqualmie to provide clean and accessible restrooms for tourists visiting downtown Snoqualmie. Unfortunately, the cost of a new stand-alone restroom facility was financially out of reach for the City; reconstructing the Snoqualmie Depot restrooms was financially out of reach for the Museum.

In an unusual but mutually beneficial arrangement, the City of Snoqualmie has formed a partnership with the Museum to fund the complete replacement of the Snoqualmie Depot restrooms. This will construct public restrooms at less than half the cost of a new stand-alone facility. Under the agreement, the Museum agrees to allow public access to the Depot, the City funds the construction, the Museum provides the space for the restrooms, and the City provides daily cleaning and maintenance of the facilities.

The new restrooms were designed by the Miller|Hull Partnership, a Seattle-based architectural firm also involved in the design of the new Train Shed. The construction contract for this $160,000 project has been awarded to North Bend-based Mr. K’s Construction. Subcontractors performing work include local businesses Bob’s Electric and Falls Plumbing. Construction began earlier this month (Jan 10) and will be completed by April in time for the beginning of the 2010 tourism season.

New public restrooms. Thanks to the City of Snoqualmie, and its forward thinking Mayor and Council, the depot restroom project is a win-win and an example of efficiencies a Public – Private Partnership can bring to a project. Notwithstanding, the biggest winners of all will be the thousands of visitors who will benefit from the use of new restrooms.

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