To make a conference center or convention center remains one of many discussions about the revitalization effort at the Guy Cole Mini-Convention Center inside Carrie Blake Park.
About 25 dignitaries and residents attended a brainstorming session on June 26 in the convention center led by architect Ken Hays, also a Sequim City councilor, and Pat Johansen, city volunteer project coordinator.
Hays, who led a tour of the 32-year-old facility, said it’s beginning to show its age and become a liability for the city.
“They are burdened with fairly big maintenance issues,” he said.
Johansen said they continue to gauge the community’s interest on whether or not to even go forward.
“We’re still at stage, do we want to do this?” she said. “I’ve yet to be told not to do it.”
So far, Johansen said they’ve tentatively recruited local groups in their efforts like the Olympic View Community Foundation to serve as their fiscal agent, students with the Skills Center to remodel much of the facility and the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe.
Community members showed general support for the volunteers’ efforts and focused on the building’s esthetics and its purpose.
Joe Borden, a board member of the Sequim Irrigation Festival, said they would need to convince the community that the center is going to benefit them if they were to seek financial support.
Hays said that question takes him back to when he and Johansen started in 2012.
“On how to accomplish that goal, I don’t have an answer right now,” he said.
Johansen said one option would be donating items like doors in the sponsor’s name.
Hays said part of the projected estimated costs between $400,000-$500,000 would fix the acoustics, add meeting spaces, a covered portico on the north side of the building, aluminum garage doors with windows and cooking amenities on the south side.
His and Johansen’s original vision for revitalizing the facility came after a local culinary event to refocus the center to culinary efforts.
However, Hays said a remodel of the out-of-code kitchen could cost $80,000-$120,000 of the total project.
The building’s shell is good, he said, and was built using high quality lumber.
But what’s on the inside takes a lot of work for some groups to make the building presentable.
Tawana Borden said organizers no longer use the center for the Sequim Irrigation Festival’s Kickoff Dinner due to its appearance and inconvenience.
“This is a nightmare to get decorated for any kind of event,” she said.
Another concern was the building’s rental rates, which are now $55 an hour for a maximum of 10 hours a day ($550 per day).
In 2013, the city raised its rates, stopped free government agency rentals and made bookings available only up to 45 days in advance.
Due to the change, the center brought in $9,190 in 2012 and $6,154 in 2013.
In 2014, the center has been rented 12 times over 15 days for a total of 121.5 hours while in 2013, the center was used 34 days for 30 events in 205.5 hours, with some city events included in the total.
Patsy Mattingley, a member of the city parks and recreation board, said when she came to the area the center had a lot of activities but since the rate change it’s dwindled to next to nothing.
However, Breva Funston, a wedding and events planner, said some venues charge $2,500 or more a day and the city could raise the fee to accommodate better amenities.
Johansen said they plan to look at rental fees from other comparable venues.
“We won’t be able to market it,” she said. “We’ll return our rates by exclusively what we need.”
Hays said his and Johansen’s next step is to break down costs and develop a business plan.
In July, Johansen said they’ll return with 3-D representations and more drawings of the center for the community and donors to look at in another meeting.
Guy Cole Mini-Convention Center was named after a former member of the Sequim Valley Lions Club which donated the building to the City of Sequim in 1982.
For more information, contact Pat Johansen at 582-3737 or firstname.lastname@example.org.