By Joe Smillie
Peninsula Daily News
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Using $50,000 in hotel-motel lodging taxes, the city will spruce up its commercial center with new benches, garbage cans and signage.
“This is a great way to make the downtown core a little more visitor-friendly and a little more comfortable,” said Barbara Hanna, the city's communications and marketing director, who hopes the work can be finished before this summer's centennial bash on the Fourth of July.
Hanna, who briefed the City Council on the plan Monday night, has met over the past year with members of the Sequim Chamber Merchants Group, a subcommittee of the Sequim-Dungeness Valley Chamber of Commerce.
Among the panel's top requests were more furniture — benches, for instance — in the downtown core and a makeover of Seal Street Park in the middle of West Washington's 100 block, she said.
“I think the merchants are really excited for something to be done to make it a more cohesive area,” said Vickie Oen, general manager of the Purple Haze Lavender Shop, 127 W. Washington St.
Three benches are planned, Hanna said, and once they are replaced, the present garbage cans may be used as planter boxes.
The makeover also will include signs and kiosks to point pedestrians and drivers to services and parking areas.
Current signage is placed too high for pedestrians, while the font is too small for drivers, Hanna said.
In addition, the city will purchase and lay ceramic tiles at Seal Street Park.
The council Monday night selected an eggplant color scheme over teal.
“Obviously, people think about lavender when they think of Sequim,” Hanna said, noting that the school's colors are purple and yellow.
“I think we are one of the few communities that can pull off that color and make it something special.”
Sequim's City Council in 2012 budgeted $50,000 for the makeover.
About $30,000 of that, Hanna estimated, will be used to purchase new benches and tiles, while the rest will go toward new signs.
The city is considering a Port Orchard manufacturer for the benches and garbage cans, Hanna said.
Councilman Ted Miller asked at Monday night's council meeting if the extreme downtown makeover would add to the “friction” he said is brewing between downtown businesses and those in other parts of the city.
Miller asked why the city was devoting so much energy into its downtown.
City Manager Steve Burkett said a distinctive downtown area was among the priorities voiced by community members.
The downtown sections of many towns that have booms of national retail outlets like that on Sequim's west end often begin to dry up as shoppers head elsewhere, he said.
“Sequim is going to continue to grow because it's a nice place to live,” Burkett said.
“We have a great downtown now. It's important to maintain it and nurture it.”
Sequim-Dungeness Valley Editor Joe Smillie can be reached at 360-681-2390, ext. 5052, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.