After authorizing hundreds-of-thousands-of-dollars to refurbish the Guy Cole Convention Center in Carrie Blake Park, Sequim city councilors are considering a rebranding effort.
With the second phase of the remodel, the commercial kitchen, set for completion by the end of Jan. 2018 by Hoch Construction of Port Angeles, city staff have asked city councilors whether or not they want to change the name of the 34-year-old center as they market it locally and across the state.
City councilors agreed to table the discussion to their next meeting, Monday, Dec. 11, where city staff will propose tentative options for the center’s name and marketing effort.
A few city councilors seemed hesitant to the change at their Nov. 27 meeting.
“I think Guy Cole deserves to keep its name,” Deputy mayor Ted Miller said.
“Unless we rename it Sequim Community Center and name it so people know what it’s for and not name it for purposes of trying to make money.”
City councilor Pam Leonard-Ray said she didn’t see a reason to change the name either.
“I personally like that it’s used for a local person who has a great history with the city,” she said. “I’d prefer to keep the name as it is or include the Guy Cole name somehow.”
If they did opt for a change, Leonard-Ray suggested changing it from a “Community Center” to an “Events Center.”
The convention center originally finished in 1983 by the Sequim Lions and was named after community advocate Guy Cole.
Judy Reandeau Stipe, executive director of Sequim Museum and Arts, wrote for the Gazette that Cole and his wife Gertrude moved to Sequim in 1962 to open Cole’s Jewelry.
From there, he integrated himself as a volunteer for the Sequim Lions Club, served as a Sequim city councilor, president of the Sequim-Dungeness Valley Chamber of Commerce’s board, a charter member of both the Sequim Bay Yacht Club and Sequim Elks Club, and much more.
The Cole’s and Lions encouraged the City of Sequim to purchase land for Carrie Blake Park, Reandeau Stipe wrote.
Sequim city council later allocated $35,000 to construct the convention center at the prompting of Cole and Lions Club members who matched the funds and built the center as volunteers one year later.
Sequim assistant city manager Joe Irvin said he’s spoken to Cole’s family and they are OK with a possible name change.
Irvin told city councilors that Cole’s family spoke about his rich history here and they wanted his name maintained as an ongoing feature in the building likely in a plaque listing his accomplishments.
Councilor Candace Pratt encouraged adding the Lions Club to the plaque for their efforts helping to build the center.
The prompt to rename the center stems from a larger vision, Irvin said, to appeal to a built-in customer base of existing users such as community groups with limited meeting space, conferences, weddings, reunions and more.
To rename the center though would require city councilors amend a 2004 resolution, he said.
Mayor Dennis Smith questioned why they’d rename the center when the resolution, “R-2004-09 adopting criteria for naming of parks, recreational facilities and other open spaces,” says “once a facility is named, the name cannot be changed unless a name can be shown to be no longer appropriate due to reasons that were caused after the name was originally accepted.”
“Maybe I’m splitting hairs, but that’s what it says,” Smith said.
Irvin said he noticed that in the resolution and said it was adopted 13 years ago and city councilors could reopen the policy if they wanted.
“We’ve grown and gained new facilities and open spaces, but this is completely city council’s decision,” Irvin said.
Whether or not city councilors agree to change the name, Leonard-Ray said the city needs to market it more.
“It’s a lovely space,” she said. “We need to make sure it’s seen. Maybe there are some events the city could hold there.”
Haelee Andres, Sequim student liaison, said there’s a need to reintroduce the center back into the community.
“I kind of agree with the intention of changing the name so it’s more recognized, but I don’t see a reason to change the name,” she said. “(The city could) hold an event or open house and give it more publicity so people are more aware of its prominence. (It’s named after) someone who held a lot of efforts for our parks. It’s inspiring in a way.”
The tentative third phase of remodeling the center would include the breakout rooms/classrooms in the eastern part of the building facing the Sequim Dog Park.
For more information on the Guy Cole Convention Center, call 360-683-4139 or visit www.sequimwa.gov.