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City Band dismisses Guy Cole concert hall

     

A hopeful idea for renovating the Guy Cole Convention Center seems to have disappeared due to high estimated costs.

Patsy Mattingley, a Sequim parks advisory board member, had a proposal from the Sequim City Band, of which she's also a member, to pay for renovations turning the facility into a multi-use community center, including a concert hall. "Nothing can be done without raising the roof," Mattingley said.

"Sequim City Band will not be putting money into that. We've given the project back to the city."

Mattingley said six weeks ago an acoustician appraised the building: For the band to use the space, it'd take about $1 million to raise the roof and fix the acoustics.

She said the space isn't set up for their 60 members and their volume.

"With so many musicians, we'd hurt people's ears now," she said.

The initial estimate for the project to the city council was $200,000-$250,000 and councilors seemed in favor of receiving a more concrete proposal. One of their council goals is finding a use for the center.

"I'm real disappointed. I thought it would have been a good, easy solution," Mattingley said.

"For the Sequim City Band, it just wasn't worth it for a few performances a year, but it'd still be a good community center."

Next move

Mattingley said she still envisions Guy Cole as a more active community center in the future.

"With modest renovation, cosmetic things, plus a sound system and acoustical tiles, you can make it into something good for the community to use," she said.

Some activities she envisions could include day camps for students, community activities such as cooking classes and small music performances.

One option the band is exploring now is to expand its rehearsal space in the James Center for Performing Arts, north of Carrie Blake Park and the Guy Cole Convention Center.

"We're coming out of the seams at the rehearsal hall," she said.

"There's no storage there with 60 musicians and everybody has cases, so there's not a lot of room."

Mattingley once advocated for an indoor concert hall adjacent to the James Center but the Department of Ecology prevented the project from going forward. The Guy Cole proposal was a possible alternative. She said expanding the James Center space is possible and they?ll continue to explore it.

"It's a whole different climate in the city and with ecology," Mattingley said.

City's options

Jeff Edwards, parks manager, said the city wants to remodel Guy Cole and make it suitable for all events.

"In a way, we want to turn the sow's ear into a silk purse," he said. "It's suitable for doing some things, but the acoustics are really bad. We want to brighten it up with new windows and curtains. At least make it a better venue."

He said the staff is evaluating budget options next year to put financing toward renovations in the 2012 city budget.

Another deciding factor with Guy Cole will come from the city's soon-to-be-administered parks and recreation surveys, which ask about the center and the city's future with more parks and recreation programs.

Mattingley said the advisory board continues to look into the city's options for creating a parks department or district.

The City of Sequim's Planning and Public Works Department, 615 N. Fifth Ave., can be reached at 683-4908.

Reach Matthew Nash at mnash@sequimgazette.com.

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