More than a month in and Sequim students with the North Olympic Peninsula Skills Center continue to work on Phase 1 of remodeling the Guy Cole Mini-convention Center.
The project estimated at $750,000, begins with 11 students led by Riley Stites, work site coordinator and applied math/building trades instructor.
They’ve been demolishing the former Lions Den meeting space and Sequim Police Department’s evidence storage room for two future conference rooms on the east end of the building. Students work about three hours, five days a week.
“It’s a nice opportunity for the kids,” Stites said. “It teaches technical prep and they can earn college credit with a B or better.”
Sequim city councilors gave Stites the go-ahead for $95,000 worth of materials on Nov. 10 and they endorsed a floor plan by architect and fellow city councilor Ken Hays, done for free, that redoes much of the 1982 building named after former Sequim Valley Lions Club member Guy Cole.
Some of Hays’ plans include remodeling the kitchen, bathrooms, meeting spaces, acoustics, and adding a patio and landscaping.
Some of the students hadn’t stepped foot in the building or knew its use before starting work inside.
It’s always been here in the middle of Carrie Blake Park and I always wondered what it was for,” said Sequim senior Steven Pullam.
Students like Pullam work toward credits learning the building trades as a joint effort by the Skills Center, Port Angeles School District, Sequim School District and now City of Sequim.
They finished working on the Sequim School District’s Administration Building last school year as their ongoing project.
To accommodate ongoing rentals at the convention center, Stites said the students are packing up nightly in a nearby trailer.
Stites, an experienced contractor, said he estimates the project could take at least two years and the city’s funds could pay for projects through the end of the school year.
Joe Irvin, Sequim special projects manager, said to make up the needed funds they’ll seek grants and donations.
“The first phase lends itself to being a good outreach plan for future funding and we can show what the $95,000 has paid for to those community groups,” he said.
“The conference rooms and additional storage will be a real good step in showing we are serious about making it more accommodating.”
By redoing the convention center, Irvin said its new purpose will be to rebrand it as a community center that caters to a variety of users and programs such as in recreation and cultural enrichment activities.
With rentals going down in recent years, some of the organizers’ goals are to make it a venue for more weddings, dances, ceremonies, small conferences, community functions, clubs and more. Hays and Pat Johansen, a community member helping with the revamp, first envisioned it as a venue for culinary events.
Irvin also presented renaming the Guy Cole Mini-convention Center to the Sequim Heritage Place but it met some resistance from city councilors so it’ll be revisited.
Johansen previously said they’ll acknowledge the Lions Club’s building efforts with a plaque of some kind in and/or outside the building. She and Hays also said the club members and Cole’s family did not object to renaming the convention center.
Following the remodel, the center would hold up to 300 people depending on the style of event.
For more information on the project, contact Pat Johansen at 582-3737 or firstname.lastname@example.org.