SEQUIM — New parking and an access road by the Albert Haller Playfields and James Center for Performing Arts are open in Carrie Blake Park after a few years of deliberation.
City of Sequim officials, residents and dignitaries stood by as Sequim Mayor Dennis Smith cut a ceremonial ribbon Monday for the approximately $455,000 project.
It adds 63 new parking spots and a driveway that reroutes vehicle traffic one way to exit off Rhodefer Road. Vehicles are not allowed to access the park from Rhodefer Road anymore.
The purpose of the project, city officials said, is to add more safety features by the playfields after complaints came into the Sequim Family Advocates (SFA) and Albert Haller Foundation.
Dave Shreffler, president of SFA, said he was thrilled to be on hand for the opening and that he finds the new parking symbolic.
“It’s a new establishment of the city and groups like SFA doing good things to benefit everyone,” he said.
Nordland Construction NW Inc. finished the road and parking spots two weeks prior to the opening, city staff said, and it took 25 days total to complete.
To fund the project, the city contributed about $250,000, with $140,294 coming from the Albert Haller Foundation, $30,000 from Sequim in-kind donations, $20,000 from Sequim Family Advocates, $10,000 from Sequim Junior Soccer, $2,000 from Storm King SC and $2,000 from Sequim FC adult soccer.
Cost estimates came in at about $110,000 less than Nordland’s bid.
Public Works director David Garlington said the main difference between the bid and staff’s estimate was the cost of installing a box culvert and permeable asphalt.
History of the spaces
Plans for parking by the playfield date back to 2011 as part of Phase II of the playfields but were delayed due to costs of permeable pavement.
Last year, the advocates returned $128,000 back to the Albert Haller Foundation, which granted the funds.
Total, about $164,000 were raised, including the grant for the project, before a series of events led to it being shelved for a while.
Originally, the advocates’ plan included 64 parking spots west and south of the bandshell.
The City Council approved the plans in 2011 along with the playfields, but costs for grass pavers that city officials mandated were deemed too expensive.
As an alternative, members of the advocacy group spent about $20,000 to pursue creating parking on Rhodefer Road at city staff’s suggestion along with installing an emergency turnaround and a bathroom/storage facility near the playfields.
However, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers denied the plans because it was identified in December 2014 as a jurisdictional wetland that can’t be paved over.
Shreffler said his group revisited the original 64 parking spots proposal as a phase project after representatives with the Albert Haller Foundation received numerous complaints about safety at the playfields.
He said the advocates didn’t have a problem with the pavers but wanted to place gravel until the city could contribute toward the bricks.
In a June 2015 special meeting of the Sequim Parks and Recreation Board, parks manager Joe Irvin recommended that gravel could not be used without grass pavers because he felt it didn’t meet low-impact development specifications.
However, City Council members heard testimony from the advocates in August and designated city staff to pursue new options. In late October 2015, the plans were narrowed down.
Gary Smith, president of the Albert Haller Foundation, was on hand for the ceremonial ribbon cutting, saying the foundation, in its 25th year, has given $8 million to the community.
“I’m sure Albert would feel good about this one,” Smith said.
“When you see the amount of kids using it, you know it’s money well-spent.”
On the aesthetics of the project, Shreffler said the new roadway “establishes the entrance off Blake as a gateway.”