Port Angeles gives Field Hall ARPA funds

Clallam County to discuss allocation of federal funds today

PORT ANGELES — The Port Angeles City Council has honored the request from Field Arts and Events Hall for $300,000 in American Rescue Plan Act funds to aid in the completion of the building.

The council agreed to the allocation on Tuesday.

Clallam County commissioners will discuss possible awards of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds at their workshop today.

The $50 million Field Arts and Events Hall was intended to be fully funded through donations, but inflation and economic shutdowns due to COVID-19 slowed the business development, according to Executive Director Steven Raider-Ginsberg.

That slowed the donations and placed construction of the building, located at the intersection of Oak and Front streets, on a delay, resulting in a 14 percent increase in building costs.

“COVID sort of forced a pause, to where the building was only 65 percent complete,” he said.

“We restarted that building process in August and now have the guaranteed financing to finish, hoping to move in June and open in July,” Raider-Ginsberg said.

Ginsberg said the ARPA funds were requested because of cost increases due to the interruption of business during COVID restrictions and there was cost escalation on the remaining 45 percent of the building. The city was given just over $5.6 million in ARPA funds and thus far has spent about $3.4 million, leaving about $2.3 million left to spend.

When the city council first discussed the request on Nov. 1, members considered giving only a portion of the funds, about $150,000, though staff initially recommended providing the full request.

City staff recommended that the remaining $2 million go towards HVAC upgrades at Vern Burton Center, City Hall and the city fire station.

“A full obligation of the request would dip into the funding for the HVAC systems by roughly $15,000,” Finance Director Sarina Carrizosa said.

Council member Mike French said he was optimistic the city would not have to spend the full $2 million allocated to HVAC systems. If needed, the city could go after funding for those systems to fill in the gaps so it could provide the full funding for Field Arts and Events Hall, he added.

“We can go out and get other grants and funding to make that HVAC happen,” French said. “So I feel very comfortable with the full $300,00 allotment.”

Council member Latrisha Suggs said she was comfortable with helping the Field Arts Hall through ARPA but wanted staff to prioritize the HVAC systems.

“I agree with providing funding to Field Arts Hall, but I am also adamant that we need to support our HVAC capital project for our city,” Suggs said.

Council member Lindsay Schromen-Wawrin said Nov. 1 that he would like to have more discussion with Raider-Ginsberg about the immediate needs of the Field Arts and Event Hall and recommended awarding $150,000, citing concerns about the impact of inflation on the HVAC estimate.

“In terms of raw numbers, I am not concerned about $150,000, I’m concerned about $300,000,” Schromen-Wawrin said.

“If you take a $2 million estimate in 2019 and add the 14 percent inflation the hall is experiencing, that is $280,000 on top of $2 million for HVAC systems. So the question is how much is the immediate need for the hall? Could we do $150,000? I think more information about their immediate need would be more helpful,” Schromen-Wawrin said.

Schromen-Wawrin moved to give $150,000 instead of the $300,000 request after getting more information from Raider-Ginsberg and the motion passed in a 4-3 vote.

However, the council came back at its Tuesday meeting and went forward with the full $300,000 following Schromen-Wawrin’s conversation with Raider-Ginsberg and learning that Clallam County is considering matching funds through its ARPA dollars.

“After the Nov. 1 council meeting, council member Schromen-Wawrin did reach out to Field Arts and Events Hall Director Raider-Ginsberg and found that they are in line for receiving ARPA funds from the county,” Carrizosa said.

“The county has allocated funds to the Field Arts and Events Center through the Lodging Tax Committee and through the city via the Opportunity fund for infrastructure related to the Center,” county commissioner Randy Johnson said.

“As to ARPA funding, the commissioners have discussed additional ARPA funding for many projects, including the Sequim Food Bank, housing and Field Events and Arts Center, but no final decision has been made.”

County commissioner Mark Ozias said it will be discussed at today’s workshop.

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Reporter Ken Park can be reached at kpark@peninsuladailynews.com.

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