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City council votes down financial support for downtown events

After lobbying by local businesses for a $5,000 proposal to promote and develop downtown events more, a majority of city councilors shot down the idea Monday night with some contention.

City Councilor Ted Miller said he supports the objective of the plan, but felt it’s misusing taxpayers’ money and favors certain businesses.

“It’s not the city’s job to pick winners and losers,” he said. “It sets a bad precedent.”

City Councilor Ken Hays, who voted in favor of the proposal, said he finds it important the city promotes its own objectives, such as within its Downtown Plan.

“The downtown core is heart of this community and critical to the vibrancy of the city,” Hays said. “To deny that is being in denial.”

“I deny that,” Miller said.

Business owners with the Merchants Group under the Sequim-Dungeness Valley Chamber of Commerce approached councilors originally in June saying their intent was to increase life downtown.

The proposal would have opened up Centennial Place at the corner of Washington Street and Sequim Avenue and support some expenditures for special events. It also would allow city licensed mobile food vendors, which is currently one business, at Centennial Place during eight special events such as the Family Day with Santa Downtown and the Community Tree Lighting.

Elements of the $5,000 contract would include marketing, printing, decorative elements, hiring local musicians and event support.

Mayor Candace Pratt and Hays were the only ones to vote in favor of the proposal.

Councilor Laura Dubois said she was struggling with her decision because she supports the downtown events but said after looking in the Downtown Plan there wasn’t any mention of using public funds for events like this.

Shelli Robb-Kahler, executive director of the chamber of commerce, hopes the city will help in the future.

“Since the city council clearly voted no to supporting the Merchants Group’s request, but indicated that it is appropriate to spend city funds to support events to showcase

Sequim and help to make downtown as vibrant and active as possible, while supporting local shopping, I am hopeful the city will step forward in allocating their resources to support and grow such events moving forward,” she said.

Bathrooms a go at Haller Playfields

Plans for the second phase of the Albert Haller Playfields are going through with some slight modifications.

Councilors gave the unanimous go ahead for Sequim Family Advocates, a nonprofit which fundraised and petitioned for the fields to alleviate wear on other playfields in Sequim, to begin construction following permitting procedures at the the Water Reuse Demonstration Site.

Dave Shreffler with the advocacy group said they’ve withdrawn 64 proposed onsite parking spaces behind the James Center for Performing Arts due to not having the funding resources (about $115,00) to pay for them.

Still in the plans are constructing 29 chipsealed parking spaces on the North Rhodefer Road on the right-of-way and a 1,249-square- foot restroom and storage building west of the playfields.

A portion of the Olympic Discovery Trail also will be realigned at the vehicle entrance to the playfields.

Joe Irvin, city special projects manager, said the advocacy group is required to use reused water in the building, its roof be made of standing seam metal, and the cul-de-sac drop-off-area be made with pervious pavement.

He estimates with the new building, the city will have almost 4 hours of extra janitorial services per week at a cost of about $4,000 a year and $2,500 more in toiletry supplies a year. Annual maintenance is to be determined.

Nearby docents will monitor and lock up the bathrooms at night, Irvin said.

Shreffler said they’ll tentatively begin construction mid- to late August and be finished by the end of the year.

Health and Human services contracts

Following the end of a three-year contract with its health and human service contract agencies, the council is considering changes to the process.

Hays and pro tem mayorf Dennis Smith agreed to sit on a committee to consider new and old contracts and approval procedures for approval in the city’s 2015 budget. In 2011, councilors voted to allocate $73,500 among seven agencies from 2012-2014.

In each of those three years of contracted services, the Boys & Girls Club received $18,750, Dungeness Valley Health & Wellness Clinic $22,500, Healthy Families $11,250, and Parenting Matters, Shipley Center, Serenity House and Volunteer Hospice of Clallam County $5,250 each but VHOCC was denied funding due to concerns over grant qualifications.

 

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