SEQUIM — After investing in refurbishing the Guy Cole Convention Center in Carrie Blake Park, Sequim City Council members are considering a rebranding effort.
With the second phase of the remodel, a $199,727 commercial kitchen, set for completion by the end of January by Hoch Construction of Port Angeles, city staff have asked council members if they want to change the name of the 34-year-old center as they market it locally and across the state.
Council members agreed to table the discussion to their next meeting, today, where city staff will propose tentative options for the center’s name and marketing effort.
A few council members seemed hesitant about making a change when they met Nov. 27.
“I think Guy Cole deserves to keep its name,” Deputy Mayor Ted Miller said, “unless we rename it Sequim Community Center and name it so people know what it’s for and not name it for purposes of trying to make money.”
Councilwoman Pam Leonard-Ray said she didn’t see a reason to change the name.
“I personally like that it’s used for a local person who has a great history with the city,” she said. “I’d prefer to keep the name as it is or include the Guy Cole name somehow.”
If they did opt for a change, Leonard-Ray suggested changing it from a “community center” to an “events center.”
In the first phase of remodeling, which was finished in May, the main bathroom was renovated, the ceiling lowered, new acoustic tiles were added and the inside and outside were repainted. New carpet was installed, as well as windows and trim, a new roof and exterior lighting.
The convention center was originally built in 1983 by the Sequim Lions and was named after community advocate Guy Cole.
Cole and his wife, Gertrude, moved to Sequim in 1962 to open Cole’s Jewelry, said Judy Reandeau Stipe, executive director of Sequim Museum and Arts. He volunteered for the Sequim Lions Club, served as a Sequim City Council member and as president of the Sequim-Dungeness Valley Chamber of Commerce’s board. He also was a charter member of both the Sequim Bay Yacht Club and Sequim Elks Club.
The Coles and Lions encouraged the city of Sequim to purchase land for Carrie Blake Park, according to Reandeau Stipe.
The council later allocated $35,000 to construct the convention center at the prompting of Cole and Lions Club members who matched the funds and built the center as volunteers one year later.
Sequim Assistant City Manager Joe Irvin said he’s spoken to Cole’s family and they are OK with a possible name change.
Irvin told city council members that Cole’s family spoke about his rich history here and they wanted his name maintained as an ongoing feature in the building likely in a plaque listing his accomplishments.
Councilwoman Candace Pratt encouraged adding the Lions Club to the plaque for their efforts helping to build the center.
The prompt to rename the center stems from a larger vision, Irvin said, to appeal to a built-in customer base of existing users such as community groups with limited meeting space, conferences, weddings and reunions.
To rename the center would require the council to amend a 2004 resolution, he said.
Mayor Dennis Smith questioned why they’d rename the center when the resolution, “R-2004-09 adopting criteria for naming of parks, recreational facilities and other open spaces,” says “once a facility is named, the name cannot be changed unless a name can be shown to be no longer appropriate due to reasons that were caused after the name was originally accepted.”
“Maybe I’m splitting hairs, but that’s what it says,” Smith said.
Irvin said he noticed that in the resolution, which was adopted 13 years ago, and council members could reopen the policy if they choose to do so.
“We’ve grown and gained new facilities and open spaces, but this is completely the City Council’s decision,” Irvin said.
Whether City Council members agree to change the name, Leonard-Ray said the city needs to market it more.
“It’s a lovely space,” she said. “We need to make sure it’s seen. Maybe there are some events the city could hold there.”
Haelee Andres, Sequim student liaison, said there is a need to reintroduce the center back into the community.
“I kind of agree with the intention of changing the name so it’s more recognized, but I don’t see a reason to change the name,” she said.
“[The city could] hold an event or open house and give it more publicity so people are more aware of its prominence. [It’s named after] someone who held a lot of efforts for our parks. It’s inspiring in a way.”
The tentative third phase of remodeling the center would include the breakout rooms/classrooms in the eastern part of the building facing the Sequim Dog Park.
For more information on the Guy Cole Convention Center, call 360-683-4139 or visit www.sequim wa.gov.
Matthew Nash is a reporter with the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which is composed of Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News, Sequim Gazette and Forks Forum. Reach him at mnash@sequim gazette.com.