Council explores new options for city hall

Slowly but surely Sequim’s plans for a new city hall are taking shape, but don’t expect to find the police department there.

“The police department really isn’t a good neighbor,” City Manager Bill Elliott said during an April 7 study session of the Sequim City Council. Elliott explained that the police department has very different clientele than city hall and would have to run a 24-hour operation, two factors that make it very unlikely that the two entities could share a building successfully.

While a new city hall is a top priority for the council, Chief of Police Bob Spinks has made building a new police department one of his major goals, and it looks as though the goal is quickly coming to fruition.

During the study session, handing out a 14-page report, Spinks announced that he had found a developer and a site, as well as a tentative price tag and means of financing. Spinks, however, would not reveal publicly the developer’s identity, the site’s location or exact figures.

According to Spinks, the developer has offered to pay for the cost of developing plans and graphics for the project.

“It seems like Chief Spinks has a burning proposal in his pocket,” Councilman Ken Hays said.

Spinks said he would be able to present the council with an overview of the proposed project — along with prepared diagrams — on Tuesday, May 27, during the council’s regularly scheduled meeting.

As for a new city hall, special projects manager Frank Needham said he is talking to about half a dozen property owners regarding potential sites, two of whom are interested in presenting proposals to council in the near future.

According to a study made in 2005 by Seattle-based architects Arai-Jackson, in order to anticipate growth 30-50 years from now, by 2020 a new city hall should be 30,000 square feet and be located on a parcel that is at least 3-5 acres.

“We have to plan on the worst case scenario, which is that growth continues,” Councilman Bill Huizinga said.

While Needham maintains that building a new city hall on its current West Cedar Street site would prove far too constricting and expensive, the majority of councilors requested that city staff and Arai-Jackson investigate the possibility further. In February, Hays had asked city staff “to look outside the box” at the possibility of closing off West Cedar Street between Sequim Avenue and the Transit Center. Hays also said that he did not think long range planning, for 30-50 years in the future, would work.

“We ought to try hard to say we can do it at the local site before we find out we can’t do it,” Councilman Erik Erichsen said.

Throughout the search for a new city hall there has been discussion regarding partnerships with other local organizations such as Peninsula College and the Sequim Library to create a “civic campus environment.” Another partner very well could be the Port of Port Angeles.

Jim McEntire, a commissioner with the Port of Port Angeles who was present at the April 7 meeting, said one of the port’s plans is eventually to construct a research park in Sequim. McEntire said perhaps city and port staff should begin talking to one another about the possibility of a joint pursuit.

“Any possible partnerships are always worthwhile to look at,” Mayor Laura Dubois said.

The council directed staff to reinvestigate the Cedar Street site, as well as the newer options, and Needham said that he would be prepared to give a presentation, along with Arai-Jackson, on April 14. Needham added that he also would contact those property owners who wished to make presentations to council.

“This has been dragging on for far too long,” Dubois said.

“This has been dragging on for far too long.”

— Mayor Laura Dubois

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