EVERETT — A new high ropes and zip line course opened in Everett on Thursday, and was hailed by Snohomish County officials as a model of a private-public partnership.
High Trek Adventures at Paine Field is an attraction that is expected to bring the county $500,000 in revenue and park improvements over the next dozen years.
The county had been working on $3.5 million in upgrades to Paine Field Community Park, and was looking for a partner, said Tom Teigen, the county’s parks, recreation and tourism director.
They worked for years to try to bring in soccer clubs, grading the site for fields, but to no avail.
“It’s been sitting here in this flat state since then,” Teigen said.
When High Trek Ventures approached the county, it seemed like a no-brainer, he said.
“They were looking at various park systems in King County and elsewhere,” Teigen said. Here, it would boost park attendance, provide capital for necessary repairs and maintenance, and fit in with other tourist attractions around Paine Field and Boeing.
High Trek signed a 12-year lease agreement with the county for $350,000 in cash and about $150,000 in improvements to the park, Teigen said.
On the formerly empty grassy lot within earshot of the Paine Field runways now stands a 55-foot-tall climbing structure for kids and adults. Several levels of rope and obstacle courses are anchored by stout poles and lined with 12-millimeter safety cable. Zip lines run around the perimeter.
“It was a long and wet, wet construction process,” said company owner Brad Halbach.
Halbach told a crowd gathered for a ribbon-cutting ceremony that he was looking forward to working with the county on park improvements.
“Possibly upgrading the bathrooms, that’s the big request,” he said, to some applause.
County Council President Brian Sullivan praised the deal that brought High Trek to Everett.
“Private-public partnerships and synergy with government agencies is the wave of the future,” Sullivan said. “Me and heights, it doesn’t work. I’m going to stay down here and watch everyone else go up,” he added.
Halbach, of Redmond, has a background in the high-tech industry, running the online home improvement retailer ATG Stores before selling that company to Lowe’s in 2011.
He and minority partner Luke Goff, of Snohomish, put their own money into the new enterprise, spending about $1.5 million to get High Trek up and running.
“I kind of retired from a desk job last year and decided to follow more recreational activities,” Halbach said.
The company has 17 employees, which Halbach said he expects will ramp up to 20-25 during the summer. The staff will drop back down to 10-12 people during the winter months, but the course will stay open for those willing to brave the weather.
“We did training with our staff last week and there were some rainy days,” he said.