BONNEY LAKE — Little has changed over the years at Bonney Lake, a private body of water located south of the much larger and more popular Lake Tapps.
As for the city of Bonney Lake — well, that’s another story.
The city, located 20 miles east of Tacoma, has seen its numbers swell as more people seek its semirural setting in the shadow of Mount Rainier. According to the 2012 U.S. Census, about 17,000 people live in Bonney Lake, nearly twice as many residents as there were in 2000.
“Bonney Lake is a safe, vibrant and growing community,” says Kim Peters, a Bonney Lake resident since 2007 who recently completed a term as president of the city’s Chamber of Commerce. “My favorite aspect of Bonney Lake is the positive growth that is occurring. Lots of young families are moving into the area.”
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Much of the influx can be attributed to the rise of Tehaleh, a mammoth master-planned community that is being built just beyond Bonney Lake’s southern city limits. Within its first four neighborhoods, Tehaleh features homes by a variety of builders, along with six parks, 7.5 miles of trails, and the Post, a community gathering and information center.
“With a community like this, everything’s [within] an easy reach — it’s designed to give you more time to enjoy your family, your friends and your neighbors,” says Scott Jones, the vice president and general manager of Newland Communities, one of the developers at Tehaleh.
He says Newland plans to build about 5,900 homes over the next 20—25 years, along with nearly 4 million square feet of commercial and retail space.
Even with all of that growth on the horizon, Bonney Lake retains a small-town appeal, according to Ken Freed, a Windermere Real Estate agent who has worked in the area since the 1980s.
“Housing is still affordable, schools are great and community events are well attended,” he says. “Some families have Seattle and Tacoma jobs and choose to base in our area.”
The first families to discover the Bonney Lake area were probably traveling the Naches Trail by wagon train in the mid-1850s. Also known as the Immigrant Road, it carried those leaving the Oregon Territory for a fresh start in the vast wilderness of Washington.
By 1949, 327 people had settled in the area, and the town of Bonney Lake was incorporated as a way of getting a better water supply. The move was spearheaded by homeowner Ken Simmons, the namesake of one of Bonney Lake’s seven city-operated parks.
Since then, Bonney Lake has seen its share of growth. It’s now home to The Home Depot, Office Depot, two fitness centers and a handful of doctors and dentists. There are several restaurants as well as a branch of the Pierce County Library System. A new YMCA facility is expected to open next year.
“There are plenty of places to shop and restaurants to enjoy,” Freed says. “Bonney Lake has a great park system, and Lake Tapps offers boating, swimming, water skiing and fishing. You can hike on the public trails, and state Route 410 takes you to Mount Rainier and Crystal Mountain.”
The Bonney Lake City Council passed an ordinance last month that will lower the speed limit on SR 410 as it passes through the heart of town — a sure sign that fewer drivers are on their way to someplace else.