Methow Trails, county, state involved in project
By Don Nelson
It’s more than a parking lot.
The Mazama Corral parking expansion now underway, spearheaded by Methow Trails, is also meant to provide year-round amenities for skiers, hikers, cyclists and horse riders.
In addition to 133 parking spaces in what will be a gravel lot, the Mazama Corral plan calls for a warming hut, restroom facilities, a horse corral, a place to dump snow in the winter, a picnic area, internal trails and abundant landscaping.
Last week, Methow Trails Executive Director James DeSalvo led an informal tour of the site at the northeast corner of the Mazama intersection, pointing out where the various elements would likely be.
Many of those in the group of about 40 people touring the site were Mazama-area residents who had a hand in discussing ideas and developing plans for the project.
“It’s a community driven project” that took many years of discussion, feedback and revisions before excavation began, DeSalvo said.
Jim Gregg, president of the Mazama Advisory Committee, said his group was involved in “lots of public meetings” as the parking lot plans progressed.
DeSalvo said funding for the project will come from several sources: a $100,000 investment by Methow Trails, $69,000 from Okanogan County, and $150,000 from a state Recreation and Conservation Office grant that is expected to be finalized soon.
The Methow Trails portion is coming from its operating funds, DeSalvo said, and the county funds from hotel/motel occupancy taxes.
Okanogan County will own the lot, DeSalvo said, and Methow Trails will manage it under a long-term contract.
DeSalvo said the project is intended to ensure legal access to the adjacent trail system, for the long-term, and to “improve the experience” over an existing open patch of parking that has been alternately frozen, muddy or dusty, depending on the season.
DeSalvo said the project also could help the community get through low-snow years by providing alternatives.
Some initial work is already being done. Substantial work should begin this fall and the whole project will be completed by fall of 2017, DeSalvo said.
The trailhead will be relocated, he said, to take maximum advantage of the unusually configured site, which does not include the Mazama Community Club or a separate commercial development that plans for three buildings with residential components.
The CenturyTel building at the intersection will be relocated, DeSalvo said, as will the building familiarly known as the former Burnt Finger barbecue restaurant, which now houses North Cascades Cycle Werks.
As for the parking lot’s entry point, now just behind the CenturyTel building, plans are not finalized yet and input is welcome. “This could be the heart of Mazama’s welcoming area,” Gregg said. “We need help.”
The commercial/housing units may take a while to materialize, said Bill Pope, managing director of Pasayten Peak LLC, which is developing the site adjacent to the parking lot.
Under a rezoning request by Pasayten Peak, three existing commercially zoned lots would be amended to incorporate commercial uses on the ground floor. Each one could also have up to two two-bedroom tourist residential/seasonal housing units on the upper floor, plus parking.
A fourth lot would have the potential for a three-bedroom tourist/residential building, according to the application.
The developers say the changes would add six middle-income two-bedroom residences for tourists or for seasonal residents on the upper levels, as well as the three-bedroom tourist/residential building.
During the tour last week, Pope said that Pasayten Peak — which was involved in burying utility lines at the Mazama intersection — wanted to make sure all necessary infrastructure is in place, although building may not happen right away.
“We want for Mazama to develop an appetite for this type of project,” Pope said. “It will be very tasteful. We may build one to set the tone for what the rest will look like.”