Sequim City Hall’s signature palm tree to be removed unless given new home

By Joe Smillie
Peninsula Daily News

Impact on neighbors of project topic of Thursday meeting

Peninsula Daily News

SEQUIM –– City officials and representatives of Lydig Construction are inviting neighbors of the new civic center to discuss impacts from the upcoming construction project at 5 p.m. Thursday.

The meeting will be at the Sequim Transit Center, 190 W. Cedar St.

Traffic will be altered around the site of the $11.65 million building that will occupy most of the north side of the 100 block of West Cedar Street.

Construction is expected to impact traffic on Cedar Street, Sequim Avenue and alleys in the neighborhood, city officials said in a statement.

In addition to administration offices, the new building also will house the Police Department, which has been in the Sequim Village Shopping Center at 609 W. Washington St., and the public works administrative offices, now in a former radiology clinic at 615 N. Fifth Ave.

Administration offices were moved in December to Suite 17 in the Sequim Valley Shopping Center and to the former Head Start administrative building, 226 N. Sequim Ave.

The total bill for the new building, including land acquisition and demolition, will be $15 million.

Earlier this year, the city sold $10.439 million in bonds to fund the project, which will be repaid annually at $660,000 for the next 30 years.

The city hopes to repay some of that with the $200,000 made available annually by eliminating rent on offices and the police station.

It also plans to use a portion of the criminal justice sales tax implemented in 2012.

For more information, contact city Public Works Director Paul Haines at 360-683-4908 or phaines@sequimwa.gov, or phone Kevin McCarry of Lydig Construction at 425-885-3314
SEQUIM –– A tropical tree may be facing the end of its run in a North Olympic Peninsula city known for its sun and indigenous cactus.

As officials prepare for construction of a new City Hall, they are looking for help saving the 20-foot Washington palm tree that has stood sentinel in front of the former city offices for more than 30 years.

Unless someone steps up to take the tree, whose scientific name is Washingtonia robusta, it will disappear along with the rest of the north side of the 100 block of West Cedar Street.

The new 30,000-square-feet City Hall, expected to be finished in the spring of 2015, will house the city’s administration, police and public works in one building instead of the several buildings it now rents around the city.

“We have researched moving the palm tree to a new location, but this is an added expense to the project, and we don’t have a good location to move the tree to,” City Manager Steve Burkett said.

Crews with Lydig Construction are scheduled to begin demolition of the old City Hall at 152 W. Cedar St., and the Serenity House buildings at the corner of Sequim Avenue and Cedar Street on April 22 to build the new $11.85 million building.

Burkett said the tree will belong to Lydig, as the contractor has salvage rights to materials from the construction site.

“Recognizing that there might be some sentimental attachment to the tree, we wanted to offer a member of the community the opportunity to remove and keep the tree,” Burkett said.

Bricks from the outgoing City Hall also may be made available to those with sentimental connections to the building, he added.

The City Hall palm tree has often been noted in national stories about Sequim’s sunny climate.

Anyone interested in saving the tree is asked to submit a proposal to the city by March 28 with an explanation of plans for removal and proof of liability insurance.

For more, contact David Garlington, city engineer, at 360-683-4908 or dgarlington@sequimwa.gov.

Where the tree came from appears to be a mystery.

“When you find out, would you let us know?” asked Clerk Karen Kuznek-Reese.

“I do know it’s not indigenous,” said Burkett, whose former office in the old City Hall looked onto the palm tree.

Roger Fell, who operates Peninsula Nurseries at 1060 Sequim-Dungeness Way and serves on the city’s parks board, estimated the tree to be more than 30 years old.

“It’s a shame. It would be nice if they could put it in front of the new City Hall or in a park or something, but it’s in the way,” Fell said.

He said the tree should fare well in any location in the Dungeness Valley.

Fred Minker, executive director of the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribal Gaming Agency, was on the city’s police force when the outgoing City Hall was built for $110,000 in 1973.

“I was working there when they built that building, but that tree wasn’t there right away,” Minker said. “It must have come along a few years later.”

City Councilman Ken Hays believes the tree was placed as an “exclamation point” to the city’s growing reputation as an ideal retirement community in the 1960s and ’70s.

“They were marketing the sun, and I think the palm tree was probably an effort to capitalize on that,” he said.

City offices were moved in December to Suite 17 in the Sequim Valley Shopping Center, 609 W. Washington St., and to the former Head Start administrative building, 226 N. Sequim Ave.

Sequim police will not move from Suite 16 in the Sequim Village Shopping Center. For non-emergencies, the Police Department phone number is 360-683-7227. For emergencies, dial 9-1-1.

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Sequim-Dungeness Valley Editor Joe Smillie can be reached at 360-681-2390, ext. 5052, or at jsmillie@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: March 18. 2014 7:02PM
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