Sequim soccer playfields expansion not without critics

By Joe Smillie
Peninsula Daily News

SEQUIM –– Plans are in the works to upgrade the Albert Haller Playfields next to the city’s Water Reuse Demonstration Site, but some community members have concerns about the proposal.

Sequim Family Advocates has proposed adding 93 parking spots and a 1,249-square-foot restroom and storage facilities at the playfields.

Advocates of the project say it provides much-needed infrastructure for the busy soccer complex.

“This project essentially completes the infrastructure for what’s already there,” said Craig Stevenson of Sequim Family Advocates, the community organization that built the soccer complex in 2011.

Stevenson noted that the playfields have as many as 1,500 people during Sequim Junior Soccer’s season, and attendees often have to park on the grass.

Sequim Junior Soccer does bring port-a-potties to the playfields for game days but removes them at the end of play.

“People are already doing the things that we’re trying to accommodate here; they’re just doing it willy-nilly style,” he said.

Sequim Junior Soccer’s season ended May 3, but Stevenson noted it is still used by adult leagues and soccer squads outside the league.

“There’s nowhere for them to go,” he said.

“People are peeing in empty cups, in bushes, through the fence right now.”

Mayor Candace Pratt worried about the implications of the bathroom building, saying public bathrooms are “just such a magnet for vandalism.”

Others worried about the soccer complex taking space away from the rest of the park facilities.

“Over the years, I’ve watched as this park has changed from a place with a lot of nature that you could walk in and sit by the pond and have a quiet moment to all this space being taken up by activity,” Councilwoman Genaveve Starr said.

Sequim resident Bob Mullen also expressed concerns about the development in an email sent to council members.

Mullen noted that 250 people signed a petition asking the city not to allow construction of any buildings in the water reuse site when the playfields were built and urged the city to keep a close eye on the possibility that vagrants could use the restrooms for sleeping and washing.

Stevenson said the soccer facility received permission to proceed with the bathroom complex and parking upgrades after members of the Albert Haller Foundation went to the playfields to see their grandchildren play in a soccer game.

The restrooms as planned will include two unisex restrooms that will be open at all times, with additional stalls that will be open during tournaments or events.

The restrooms would be sited near the James Center for the Performing Arts, which is situated near the southwest corner of the playfields.

Parking would be added along Rhodefer Drive on the playfields’ east edge and improved along the southern boundary of the fields, where a gravel parking lot currently exists.

The proposal was unanimously endorsed by the city’s Parks and Recreation Board on May 13.

Although Sequim Family Advocates has no budget for the project as of yet, Stevenson said it hopes to begin work in July.

When it gets the city’s permission, it will be able to quote the project, he said.

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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: June 02. 2014 6:22PM
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