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City of Sequim considers parks, rec department

Sequim city councilors expressed renewed interest in the possibility of forming a parks and recreation department.

During discussion on their 2010-2011 goals on June 28, councilors gave the go-ahead to Public Works Director Paul Haines and his staff to explore the idea.

If staff finds a viable way a parks department could work and councilors say yes, then voters would need to approve the junior taxing district within either citywide, county or Sequim School dis-trict boundaries - depending on which one is chosen.

Forming a department could remove management of parks maintenance from the city's street crews and allow for creation of recreational programs in its parks and facilities.

Currently the city of Sequim does not offer recreational programs but does partner with nonprofit organizations that do.



Backing a parks department

Both Mayor Ken Hays and Mayor Pro-Tem Laura Dubois agreed the district was important to Sequim's future.

"There's no doubt in my mind that the community would pay for (recreational) programs," Hays said.

"They might not want it today but in a decade people will be asking for it, or they might not move here."

Dubois said parks are a big part of Sequim's potential for economic development and that improving them is the best way to serve all of the city's residents.

She emphasized that the city's parks should not just focus on its senior citizens, but everyone, by having all-inclusive community parks.

"To have young people hanging out at the bus depot isn't a good way of life," she said.

Hays said he attended a recent conference and learned that studies show parks are the No. 1 consideration for many people moving to a city.

"In many ways, Sequim is ahead of the curve," Hays said. "The trend isn't to build new parks but to make existing ones better."

This was a brainstorming session and the parks and recreation department will be brought up again at a later date.

Guy Cole Convention Center

Doing something different with the Guy Cole Convention Center in Carrie Blake Park is in limbo until the council comes to a decision about a parks and recreation department.

Councilors agreed that their goal this year is to decide on the building's long-term use, which could include putting the department in the center.

Sequim Lions Club members built the center in 1978 after agreeing with the city to a 30-year lease for meeting space.

It rents for $175 for four hours and in 2009 it earned $9,000 in revenues but cost $19,018 in upkeep without employee time included.

"The building is deteriorating and is going nowhere fast," Hays said. "We need to do something with it and make it productive or not."

He said its revenue is unimportant and the real determining factor is its amount of use.

"We need to accept if it does or does not have viable use," Hays said. "It seems irresponsible not to be using it."

Councilors didn't seem interested in the option of tearing it down and preferred remodeling and updating.

Dubois said people aren't using it in its current state but before any designs are made or approved, its use should be determined.

"I imagine seeing this falling into a 'hopes and dreams' category," Hays said.

"We need to make some decision."



Potential grants for Discovery Trail

Steps are being taken for Sequim's portion of the Olympic Discovery Trail.

City councilors gave the go-ahead to apply for two grants that could pay for the "missing link" of the trail.

Haines said the trail section could be paid for by grants through the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office and the Washington Regional Transportation Program.

The project is estimated to cost $630,000.

Other funding options might be donations or help from the Peninsula Trails Coalition, with Transportation Benefit District and impact fees as backup.

The route connects the trail from the intersection of Hendrickson Road and Sequim Avenue to the Water Reuse Demonstration Park using East Spruce Street and North Sunnyside Avenue.

City councilors voted on this trail segment placement and design in 2009.



Sequim is well

The city of Sequim won a Well City 2009 Award for promoting physical activity and healthy lifestyles among its employees. This was the first time the city has applied for the award although employees have participated since 2004.

The program includes monthly speakers on health topics and a 3 W's program promoting wellness, walks and drinking water. If the city receives the award again in 2010, in 2011 it will receive 2 percent off its health care costs, a savings of about $4,000.



Reach Matthew Nash at mnash@sequimgazette.com.

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