There's a new yellow-and-maroon structure at Avenue D and First Street in Snohomish, and city officials and business owners hope it will...

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There’s a new yellow-and-maroon structure at Avenue D and First Street in Snohomish, and city officials and business owners hope it will enhance tourism and help boost the local economy.

The Snohomish Visitor Information Center debuted to many “thank-yous” and a crowd of about 100 people during its grand opening Saturday.

The center has been in the works for eight years at a cost of $358,000, including $228,075 for construction, with other money going for design, decorating and administration. It will help direct visitors and attract tourism, Mayor Liz Loomis said.

The center was paid for mostly through a federal grant, but local businesses also chipped in through a lodging tax and a $17 annual business-license assessment.

Snohomish is known for its antique stores and outdoor activities. Organizers hope the center will help tourists find ways to spend their money in town while educating them about Snohomish history.

The garage-size structure is made to look like a Northern Pacific Railway station. There is even a rusty 8-foot section of track outside the building.

Inside, display cases are full of railroad and Snohomish memorabilia: A sink from a passenger rail car, an old freight-train bill and a Northern Pacific schedule are some of the highlights.

A sign on the outside the building displays the old Northern Pacific logo, a black-and-red ying-yanglike swirl that has caused some members of the community to accuse the city of making the center look “New Age.”

“From our point of view,” said Larry Bauman, the city manager, “it has nothing to do with New Age, or ying yang, as an Eastern philosophical concept. It has to do with a historical element that was part of the old railway station. I don’t think we’re going to get confused with a tai-chi studio.”

There weren’t any protests Saturday. Many attendees praised the project as a testament to the great success of community collaboration.

“The community here is a really great, loving community,” said Arnie Clark, who was the city’s project manager for the construction of the center.

The center will be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day and staffed by volunteers, of which there are 24, Bauman said. The city is still looking for more volunteers to work at the counter.

With 90 visitors Sunday, its first regular day of service, the center is already a success, Bauman added.

Brian Alexander: 425-745-7813 or balexander@seattletimes.com