By Joe Smillie
Peninsula Daily News
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“This is a unique opportunity for the city to have ownership of one of the prime properties in the heart of our downtown,” Mayor Ken Hays said Monday night.
“We are optimistic and believe in the economic future of the city and downtown, and believe this is a great investment at a good price,” he added.
“This property has remained vacant for years. It is our goal to use it to effectively contribute to the success of downtown.”
The council voted unanimously in favor of purchasing the land at 104 E. Washington St. from Gull Industries after a half-hour executive session following Monday's regular council meeting.
The sale will not be final until the city conducts an environmental study of the 8,700-square-foot property.
City Manager Steve Burkett said the purchase gives the city control over the development of the city's main intersection.
The city currently has no plans for the property.
Burkett said the council may choose to create a public park at the site if it decides not to sell it to another developer.
“This way, the city can control what actually goes on there in terms of what is developed and how it is designed,” Burkett said.
Until then, the lot will be used as a public space for the Open Aire Market and during the city's busy festival season.
Jeri Sanford, who owns and lives above the Over the Fence shop next door, said she was happy the city purchased the lot and is looking forward to seeing something new on the asphalt lot.
“I just know they're going to make it a really nice entrance into the city,” she said.
“They've really been working on some wonderful things in terms of making the city more walkable.”
Ownership of the property also makes it easier for the city to eventually reconfigure the busy intersection, Burkett said. He said Monday the owners had asked for as much as $300,000 for the lot.
The gas station had three underground gas storage tanks that were installed in 1970 and removed in 2005, according to data on the site from the state Department of Ecology.
While there was some soil contamination from leaks in the tank, Burkett said, Ecology determined last August that the site needed no further cleanup.
The city will begin a review of that cleanup to ensure the site requires no further work before finalizing the purchase.
The council Monday also approved a $42,720 contract with its transportation consultant firm, Gray and Osborne, to design three pavement preservation projects.
City Engineer David Garlington said the preliminary plan is to put a new asphalt overlay on South Third Street between U.S. Highway 101 and Hemlock Street, and to put new chip seal coats on West Maple Street between Third and Fourth streets, and on West Prairie Street between Fifth and Seventh streets.
Estimated cost of construction is $280,591, with the Third Street overlay the bulk of that cost at an estimated $192,600.
The city budgeted $356,000 for pavement maintenance this year.
While other streets in the city may be in worse shape, Garlington said, repairing these three streets will help improve the overall condition of the city's street system.
Public Works Director Paul Haines said Maple and Prairie streets soon will need costlier overlays if they are not repaired this year.
The chip seals, he said, will give that pavement another five to seven years of usable life.
Sequim-Dungeness Valley Editor Joe Smillie can be reached at 360-681-2390, ext. 5052, or at email@example.com.