In a preview of projects to come, W. Ron Allen, CEO/tribal chairman for the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe, recently provided a lengthy list of planned projects in and around the City of Sequim.
Appearing virtually from Washington, D.C. on Sept. 26, Allen met in a work session with Sequim city councilors discussing possible facilities for tribal citizens, staff and the community.
“Our objective is to be value-added to Sequim,” he said.
In a later telephone interview, Allen said the tribe has prioritized a few of the named projects with no defined timelines given for any of the named projects.
Building priorities, he said, include: a bigger space for the Jamestown Dental Clinic near the Jamestown Family Health Clinic; an administration building and an Evaluation and Treatment Psychiatric Hospital near the Jamestown Healing Clinic, and a Tribal Gaming Agency building behind 7 Cedars Resort in Blyn.
Original plans for the $16 million Jamestown Healing Clinic on South Ninth Avenue included an Evaluation and Treatment Psychiatric Hospital but were dropped because of cost, tribal officials previously said.
In March, state legislators approved $3.25 million for design and initial site work for a 16-bed mental health crisis facility.
Allen said in the city work session the in-patient program complements the Healing Clinic.
Tribal leaders are targeting 16 beds, but are exploring designs for up to 32 beds, Allen said.
“We’re designing it, (and) it’s not cheap,” he said.
Brent Simcosky, the tribe’s health services director, said in a phone interview tribal leaders plan to request construction funding with the legislature in the upcoming session.
“This is a project that Jefferson Healthcare and (Olympic Medical Center) wants us to build as there is no such facility in the North Olympic Peninsula,” he said.
Allen said the tribe would administer the building and OMC would staff it.
Simcosky said there’s no guaranteed funding, so a timeline for when the tribe moves forward with any permit or city discussion is not set.
The tribe would also need a conditional use permit through the city to proceed due to the use of inpatient beds, Simcosky said.
The Healing Clinic started seeing patients afflicted with opioid use disorder on July 6.
When asked if it’s meeting expectations, Allen said patient numbers are going up because the facility provides more services, such as counseling, than other area facilities.
“We’re pleased with it so far,” Allen said.
He added: “The bottom line is, when healing people from opioids and substance abuse, we not only want them to get healthy again but want to get them retooled and back to the labor force and marketplace.”
Allen said in the phone interview that they’ve held a pre-application meeting with city staff about the administration building across South Ninth Avenue from the Healing Clinic. No timeline for permitting with the city was available, he said.
Steve Lachnicht, Sequim’s director of Community Development, said in a phone interview, that city staff met with tribal staff on Feb. 15 for a pre-application meeting on the administrative/maintenance building but no permits were submitted and no process started. He said there have been no other meetings with the tribe about potential projects in the city.
In the work session with city leaders, Allen said the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe purchased about 3-and-a-half acres from Olympic Medical Center adjacent to its family clinic off North Fifth Avenue, with plans to build and expand the Jamestown Dental Clinic.
“We serve around 6,000 patients a year and we’re going to expand it,” he said. “(I) think we’re going to definitely double it (and we’re) thinking about expanding to triple.”
Putting it next to the Family Clinic “makes sense,” he said.
In a later interview, Allen said the building is “being designed as we speak,” but that it hasn’t been engineered yet.
Allen and tribal staff focused mostly on potential projects in city limits, but in a phone interview, he said the Tribal Gaming Agency building behind 7 Cedars Resort in Blyn remains a priority to give more space to staff training and for oversight of the casino.
The project came in above staff’s price estimate, so they decided to downsize and put the project into phases, Allen said.
A 10-acre parcel at the corner of Silberhorn Road and River Road could be a few different things — a tribal elder assisted living facility or a tribal staff daycare — according to Allen.
“A majority of our elders want to live in Sequim proper, close to Walmart, Safeway, (other stores), and close to our medical center,” he said.
“We think it works, so we’re taking a hard look at that.”
The tribe also owns a number of individual houses, Allen said, that could be set for independent living elders, but they’re looking at properties north of Sequim that might “work better for us.”
Tribal staff are also considering designing and building a daycare with capacity for up to 100 children for its employees, he said, as they’ve been hearing that it’s a “huge need.”
With more than 900 employees now and an estimated 1,100-plus in the next five years, Allen said they continue to assess the need.
“Our objective is to keep the cost of daycare in the 8-10 percent of take home pay so it’s affordable for workers,” he said.
The tribe is also planning a teen/youth center — for tribal children with Jamestown and any tribe — near Sequim Middle School on Hendrickson Road.
Allen said Jamestown’s tribal council vice-chair Loni Greninger wants to build the center with a few classrooms and offices, and collaborate with the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Olympic Peninsula.
“It’d help us move our youth program into Sequim,” Allen said.
“A majority of the kids we serve are in Sequim proper or Port Angeles, and we’re busing them all the way to Blyn. This will reduce travel time.”
Allen said the tribe’s architect is ready to begin conversations with Greninger and her team about the facility’s needs and aesthetics.
A portion of tribe-owned property by the Healing Clinic is being set aside to build 20 to 24 units for affordable rentals, Allen told city councilors.
He said the tribe looks to keep rental rates under market value to make them affordable because “we know that’s a big deal for our community.”
Tribal administrators also look to build more multiplex housing east of Olympic Medical Center on about 1 acre, which Allen said is in unincorporated Clallam County.
The tribe also purchased properties west of the Healing Clinic along U.S. Highway 101 to River Road. Allen said the goal is for patients to come off the highway and straight to their facilities, and not onto the main thoroughfare that could negatively impact traffic.
Discussions continue to purchase about 5 acres east of Carrie Blake Community Park that Allen said could become a small elder facility, too.
Little League Park
Work continues to redesign and remodel the Dr. Standard Little League Park, an effort that was announced this summer.
Allen said he initially thought the remodel would cost about $200,000, but now it could cost as much as $1 million.
“It needed a lot of help (and we’re) delighted the city is highly interested in working with us,” he said.
“I took a big bite out of this apple and we want it to be a (world class) Little League park … We’re gonna make it happen.”
The park is partially owned by the City of Sequim and Sequim Little League in unincorporated Clallam County and would require county permitting.
Earlier this year, the tribe announced its purchase of business spaces in downtown Sequim, including the Sequim Trading Plaza.
At the work session, Allen said the tribe would like to discuss shutting down the road off West Washington Street west of Hurricane Coffee Co.’s building to expand seating and lighting. With Seal Street Park and the parking area behind the buildings, he said he also wants to hold discussions with city leaders about turning it into a town square.
Allen’s son, W. Joe Allen, the tribe’s Economic Development Authority executive director, said all of the businesses in those buildings are full, with a shared work space business slated to move in.
The former doctor’s building at 103 W. Cedar St. will be demolished for a cedar hat building housing an art gallery/gift shop, tribal members said.
In a phone interview, Ron Allen said no timeline is set for these projects.
“We haven’t settled on what to do with the back of the lot,” he said. “We want to sit down with Sequim, tell them what we’re thinking and have a comfort level before moving forward.”
Joe Allen said they have many more plans outside of the city with some including expanding Carlsborg Self Storage, cell and TV service in Blyn, RV and cabin camping in the area, a Blyn truck stop, adding electric vehicle charging stations, and more.
With many planned properties in city limits, councilor William Armacost asked if the tribe plans to enter its properties into a tribal trust so that it no longer needs to pay property taxes.
Allen said it’s something they’d want to pursue, but they’d want to negotiate with the city first to see what tax revenue it’d lose.
“We think we’d work up a deal that helps the city in terms of revenue from the properties,” Allen said. “We don’t have to do it but we can do it.”
He added: “Before we go across that bridge, a lot has to happen.”
Jamestown has more than 2,000 acres in trust mostly without federal assistance, Allen said.
“The process takes a lot to make it happen,” he said. “One of the biggest issues is no liabilities.”
The tribe owes millions on its properties, Allen said, and “it’s way down the road before we’d even pursue (tax exempt status).
“I can assure you, the only way we’d do it is to make sure you’re partners in a joint agenda and make sure it works for the city and city constituents too.”
For Jamestown’s Healing Clinic, that was publicly scrutinized in meetings, forums and through lawsuits, Allen said they “worked hard at vetting the Healing Clinic and issues.”
“We have to find that common ground that we’re being responsible and respectful and accountable.”
With the tribe’s property taxes, the city would need to “look at the economic impact of the investment in this community,” Sequim Mayor Tom Ferrell said.
“It washes out pretty quick,” he said. “I understand and trust the process. Appreciate you working with us.”
Allen said partnering with the city on tapping into its wastewater system was win-win and they want to continue that kind of good relationship.
As for all the announcements, Allen said his team feels it’s important for the tribe to be transparent.