SEQUIM — What was once a vacant lot on East Washington Street between Jose’s Famous Salsa and The Rusting Rooster is now a temporary park that will soon be open to the public.
Officials will celebrate the opening of the temporary community park, Whimsy Park, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Friday with live music by the Malcolm Clark Band. The ribbon cutting will be at 5:15 p.m.
Organizer Ken Stringer said the Community Plus project was started last fall to create a place for people to get together.
“It’s a gathering place for everyone and where all kinds of performances and entertainment can take place,” Stringer said.
The park cost between $7,000 and $10,000 from donated materials and services.
Stringer said he contacted the owner of the lot, Bill Littlejohn; Diana Young-Thompson, who owns the building on the lot; and Jose Garcia, owner of Jose’s Famous Salsa, which occupies the building and proposed turning the lot into a temporary park.
He said it is called Whimsy Park “because it’s all [built] on a whim.”
The park was built to accommodate the Sequim Farmers Market on summer Saturdays and will be the site of the first farmers market of the season at the park from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, during the first weekend of the Sequim Irrigation Festival.
Stringer said the park will remain open until Littlejohn decides he wants to develop the lot.
The best thing about the park so far has been seeing people walk by and show interest in the project, Stringer said.
The park features several walking paths made of wood chips, a stage for musicians to play, straw bales for community members to sit on, plants and trees from local nurseries and a “Whimsy Art Wall” started by Sequim High School’s advanced placement (AP) art students.
The art wall will be an evolving project that includes planned renditions to engage community members.
“It will evolve by whimsy, rather than design,” Stringer said.
Some of these renditions might include a working door that opens to a painted scene and windows displaying shop scenes.
“Painting the mural has been a fantastic opportunity for the AP students to get to beautify their community and work alongside community members,” AP art teacher Jake Reichner said. “It is definitely something they are proud of.”
Stringer said all that is left to do is finish mulching, complete the beautification process and paint a white movie screen square behind the stage.
He also wants to add picnic tables and trash cans and has proposed the idea of putting in an adventure playground for children to play and build with Styrofoam blocks.
Contributors to the park include Alcan Forest Products, Blake Tile &Stone, city of Sequim, Hermann Brothers Logging &Construction, Jim Bishop Excavating, Jose’s Famous Salsa, Littlejohn, New Dungeness Nursery, Parry Construction, Peninsula Nursery, Rodda Paint, The Rusting Rooster, Sequim High School with Reichner’s AP art class, Vision Nursery and Young-Thompson.
Erin Hawkins 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 her at [email protected].