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Park proposed for old Public Works site

It once was the home of the city’s Public Works building but a new proposal could change a now vacant lot at the corner of Cedar and Seal streets into an open space park and downtown gathering spot.

The plan for the park was unveiled during the city council’s Jan. 28 meeting by Public Works director Jim Bay.

In 2007, the mayor’s blue ribbon task force identified the site as a possible open space and/or park area. It was so identified in the city’s proposed Town Center Sub-area Plan, although the park’s creation does not hang on whether or not the sub-area plan is approved.

The 12,000-square-foot park is in its conceptual stages but proposed amenities include two bocce ball courts, a checkers game pad, two game pads for tick-tack-toe, a bean bag toss, five removable benches (two with tables) and at its center a capped stand that would provide a place for an annual Christmas tree lighting and a Maypole dance, which was a popular activity in Sequim for many years.

Costs of the park’s construction are estimated at $15,000.

In addition, the park could help with the Open Aire Market that is open on Saturdays from mid-May to mid-October on Cedar Street.

The market will be entering its 13th season this year and business is booming. According to the market’s manager Mark Ozias, the market averaged 50 vendors a week and the number of people visiting the market has nearly doubled over the past two years. In other words, the market needs all the room it can get.

Last year, the city put gravel on the vacant lot and allowed market vendors to use the space, which proved to be a great benefit to the market’s success.

“I’ve been going to the Open Aire Market for 10 years, and the best year by far was last year and that was because that open space was available,” said resident Don Hall.

If the park is approved and created, Ozias says that not only will prove a “real boom” for the market but that the park also will serve as a major gathering place for Sequim residents.

“It’s very easy to see this park being used not just on Saturdays but all the days of the week,” Ozias said, addressing the council.

Later, Ozias said the space is rather unique and creates a unique opportunity for Sequim because it’s the only bit of open space in the city’s possession that’s centrally located.

However, the council’s four new members have expressed an interest in having a new city hall built on the vacant lot, although a formal proposal has yet to be introduced. Preliminary discussions regarding a new city hall will take place during a council work session at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 19.

“I will reserve my judgment until we see plans for city hall, but I like this plan very much,” Mayor Laura Dubois said of the proposed park.

Ozias said that he cannot say for sure, without having seen any plans, whether a new city hall built on the vacant lot would negatively affect the market.

According to Bay, even if the park were to be approved this month, he would want to spend three to four months trying to gather public contributions for the project before any construction.

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