News

Downtown Plan opens to public

by MATTHEW NASH
Sequim Gazette

 

City staff and LMN Architects of Seattle want help in molding downtown Sequim.

 

They are hosting an open house Thursday and Friday, Nov. 4-5, at 175 W. Washington St., to receive input on what Sequim's downtown should become.

 

The public can view preliminary downtown design concepts, review results of a transportation mobility/walking audit and engage in dialogue to help shape the Downtown Plan.

 

"These workshops are an opportunity to casually talk to your city planning department," said Joe Irvin, interim planning director.

 

"We care and we want to listen. The more vested business owners and citizens are, the better the plan will be."

 

He encourages people to share their thoughts on a possible downtown, such as what works and what problems exist.

 

"We'll have wide open ears," Irvin said.

 

Downtown development

This is the third downtown plan for Sequim. Work was done in 2003 and 2007-2008 on plans that weren't adopted.

 

Irvin said previous plans looked at parking management, with only one minor parking ordinance being adopted.

 

"This plan is written to be action-oriented with lots of short-term, immediate action projects," Irvin said.

 

"The big difference for the scope of this plan is that it calls for market feasibility by looking at the national trend and what kind of developments are happening in towns similar to Sequim."

 

One key component of the plan's development is the formation of an advisory committee of stakeholders from local businesses and groups.

 

Jacques Dulin, attorney with Innovation Law Group, Ltd., is on the advisory committee and worked on the previous downtown plan.

 

"The basic thing we're asking ourselves is 'What is Sequim?' 'What kind of community is it going to be?" Dulin said. "There's no easy answer."

 

Project scope

So far the study area of the downtown is not defined.

 

Before the LMN Architects' contract was approved, city councilors debated the scope of the project.

 

"The good thing about this plan is that there's not a preconceived plan about what's going to happen," Irvin said.

 

"We're still molding it and entering the public input phase."

 

One of the problems Irvin hears about most is parking problems downtown.

 

He believes the downtown plan could create solutions for this and for other issues such as more park space, improving crosswalks, adding more benches and more.

 

Suggested zoning code amendments like height requirements and types of building uses could contribute to the backbone of the plan, Irvin said.

 

Guidance from LMN and city representatives still will help the advisory committee mold the plan from what citizens suggest.

 

"We're facing the reality of growth and a need to plan for it," Dulin said. "If we don't plan for it, then we might get a city no one likes."

 

"Our committee is trying to outline a vision for a healthy and strong downtown."

 

Following the open house events, a website is planned for updates on the project plans linked through the city's website at www.ci.sequim.wa.us. View 'Help Shape Downtown Sequim' poster.

 

For more information, contact Joe Irvin at 683-4908 or jirvin@ci.sequim.wa.us.

 

Reach Matthew Nash at mnash@sequimgazette.com.

 

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