By Arwyn Rice
Peninsula Daily News
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Hays spoke to about 60 people at the Sequim-Dungeness Valley Chamber of Commerce luncheon meeting Tuesday to drum up support for the project, which has been planned since 2012.
Those interested are invited to a community meeting at 4 p.m. June 26 to view the facility at the park at 202 N. Blake Ave. and make suggestions for its future.
The 8,000-square-foot convention center, built by Lions Club volunteers about 30 years ago, is showing its years, Hays said.
“The kitchen has aged and is sort of a relic at this point,” he said.
“It's actually a liability for the city.”
Hays said the building has nice, solid “bones,” and the general shape would lend itself to many different, more modern designs.
Work could begin as early as this fall, he said.
Preliminary concepts developed for the project include adding large windows on the south side of the building for natural lighting, an outdoor cooking patio, trelliswork with flowering vines, a porte cochère and a new metal roof with solar panels to reduce the city's utility cost.
“It's an amazing potential project,” Hays said.
Concepts have been developed to seat up to 300 people in a convention configuration, or 240 as a dining venue, for weddings or gala dinners.
Hays said the plan is only preliminary, and the city is seeking input from community members to see what they want in the center.
“Things will change as we get public input,” he said.
Naming rights would be sold to help fund the work necessary to revitalize the center, which was named after a leading volunteer who built it.
“Give us $500,000, you can name it whatever you want,” said Pat Johansen, city volunteer project coordinator.
Smaller donations would allow donors to name the kitchen, smaller breakout meeting rooms or the stage, she said.
Details as to the amounts of donations required for naming rights will be established at a later date, she said.
The city is also seeking ways to reduce the cost of the work.
Hays, who is an architect, is donating his professional services to help create the design for the remodel, and there are hopes that other businesses in the area, especially building suppliers, would donate materials.
An informal agreement between the city and the Sequim School District has been reached to have the school district's building trades students do much of the drywall work, painting and other simple construction work, Johansen said.
Sequim High School's building trades students completed much of the construction work for the remodel and restoration of the historic Sequim High building, which is now used as the district's office.
In a related project, the city is planning to move the main entrance and parking for Carrie Blake Park from its current location to the city's existing right of way south of the Sequim Skate Board Park, Hays said.
The current driveway splits the two main play areas — which is a safety issue for the city and has a lack of parking, he said.
Reporter Arwyn Rice can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5070, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.