The Port Angeles Lodging Tax Advisory Committee heard a presentation Thursday by Ben Braudrick, a Department of Community and Economic Development assistant planner, before recommending City Council approval of $883,630 in lodging-tax-funded projects in 2017. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

The Port Angeles Lodging Tax Advisory Committee heard a presentation Thursday by Ben Braudrick, a Department of Community and Economic Development assistant planner, before recommending City Council approval of $883,630 in lodging-tax-funded projects in 2017. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

Port Angeles lodging tax panel recommends Civic Field upgrades

The committee urged spending $150,000 ahead of the move-in of a new West Coast League baseball team in June.

PORT ANGELES — Encouraged by the impending arrival of a West Coast League baseball team in June, the city Lodging Tax Advisory Committee has recommended spending $150,000 in 2017 for long-awaited improvements to Civic Field, the team’s new home.

Committee members voted 6-0 Thursday to recommend approval of the allocation by the City Council, which will consider the matter at its regular meeting Nov. 1 as part of $883,630 in recommended lodging-tax expenditures for next year out of $991,211 that is available.

Lefties owner Matt Acker of Lacey said Friday the team would be releasing its 2017 schedule Monday.

The first game will be June 1 against the Victoria HarbourCats, with a full squad on hand by June 16.

“That money will be very welcome to the facility,” he said. “I’m happy they received it.”

The $150,000 for Civic Field — half of a $300,000 two-year request by city Parks and Recreation — would pay for a new stadium roof and repairs including a paint-job for the facility, hopefully by June, department Director Corey Delikat said Friday.

Delikat said the second $150,000 would cover installation of new restrooms in 2018, an allocation the advisory committee will consider next year.

Though a new boiler that provided hot water was funded in 2014 and badly needed new lighting was installed at Civic Field this year, city officials have struggled to make other improvements.

Voters rejected a $4 million bond in 2012 by failing to give the proposal the required 60 percent supermajority, although 55 percent favored the measure.

“After that failed, it left the staff looking at how to make improvements,” Delikat told committee members.

Community and Economic Development Director Nathan West said making Civic Field capital improvements is a top tourism-related priority for the city.

Deputy Mayor Cherie Kidd, chair of the advisory committee, said she could “easily” allocate $200,000 of the $991,211 in lodging taxes available for the heads-in-beds projects.

“It’s a community asset,” she said of Civic Field. “This year, we have the funds.

“We do need to improve it now, and this is our opportunity.”

Delikat said he could not seek lodging tax funds until it could be shown that the improvements generated room nights in local hotels.

He said having the new wooden-bat baseball team call Port Angeles home does exactly that.

“Having the team coming into town gives us the opportunity to look at other avenues, and lodging taxes are not something we’ve been able to utilize before,” he said.

“I never felt comfortable going for lodging tax funding specifically for Civic [Field] until we could supply heads in beds, and now we can.”

Acker said Friday the team is also putting in improvements to Civic Field, including a third-base-area retention wall to stabilize a hilly area and a party deck where fans can drink beer and wine that will be sold during games.

The team is developing a three-to-five-year plan.

“Currently, they are designing a new entrance to the north side of the facility, along with seating improvements along the baseball diamond, and new batting cages,” Delikat said in an application by Parks and Recreation for the funding.

He said winter baseball clinics for area youths are being scheduled, but summer clinics have been set for every Monday and Tuesday in July.

Lodging tax committee members at the meeting, along with Kidd, were Ryan Malane of Black Ball Ferry Line, Vicki Heckman of Sound Bikes &Kayaks, Holly Dempsey of Olympic Lodge, Robert Utz of the Red Lion Hotel and citizen-at-large Dave Shargel.

New projects approved

The $150,000 in funding for Civic Field improvements was the largest of seven new allocations the city Lodging Tax Advisory Committee said should be funded in 2017 from $883,630 in 2016 lodging taxes.

The lodging tax funds are derived from a consumer tax on overnight stays at Port Angeles lodging establishments.

The committee recommended that the City Council approve 14 lodging-tax applications, which the committee must review again if the council changes the amounts.

“All applications must include estimates of how funding the activity will result in increases to people staying overnight, traveling 50 miles or more, or coming from another state or country,” according to the nonpartisan state Municipal Research Services Center.

“Lodging tax revenue may still be awarded to recipients who generate few of these types of travelers,” according to the MRSC.

“The guiding principle for the use of lodging taxes is that they must be used for activities, operations and expenditures designed to increase tourism.”

The committee recommended the following new projects for approval:

• $100,000, city of Port Angeles, wayfinding signs, maps, landmarks, icons

• $16,000, tourism summit

• $15,125, Feiro Marine Life Center, improvements to sandy area and planter boxes in front of facility

• $12,000, city of Port Angeles, heritage tourism signage along 14 miles of Olympic Discovery Trail

• $2,500, Olympic Peninsula Visitors Bureau, to quantify the inquiry “conversion rate” to determine how much travelers spend and calculate a marketing return on investment, conducted with Jefferson County Tourism Council, Port Townsend and potentially Sequim

• $1,500, contingency

Ongoing funding requests recommended for approval:

• $258,814, Vertigo Marketing LLC, marketing services

• $101,000, event grants

• $74,591, Port Angeles Regional Chamber of Commerce Visitor Center

• $70,000, city of Port Angeles, recreation/ballfields, for baseball, softball, basketball tournaments

• $36,000, lodging-tax priority-setting costs for city staff time and materials

• $26,000, Olympic Peninsula Tourism Commission

• $20,100, debt service transfer

________

Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at paul.gottlieb@peninsuladailynews.com.

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