Michael Dashiell / Olympic Peninsula News Group
Sequim City Band members break ground on the rehearsal hall expansion project. Pictured with ceremonial shovels are, from left, band president Debbi Soderstrom, band director Tyler Benedict and Neeley Construction superintendent Eli Collier.

Michael Dashiell / Olympic Peninsula News Group Sequim City Band members break ground on the rehearsal hall expansion project. Pictured with ceremonial shovels are, from left, band president Debbi Soderstrom, band director Tyler Benedict and Neeley Construction superintendent Eli Collier.

Sequim City Band breaks ground for expansion

$350K still needed to complete rehearsal hall construction

SEQUIM — Despite some wildfire smoke blowing across the Olympic Peninsula, director Tyler Benedict and fellow Sequim City Band members were drawing some anticipatory breaths last weekend.

The community band on Sunday celebrated the groundbreaking of its rehearsal hall expansion with dignitaries and representatives of Neeley Construction, following the group’s performance in collaboration with Music in the Bark.

“It’s been a long two years of fundraising,” Benedict reminded the band. “And we’re not done, as you know.”

Most of the expansion project’s estimated $1.409 million building price tag has been raised, band representatives said, but there remains about $350,000 left to raise to “fill the gap.”

Said Benedict on Sunday, “We’ve got one more big push to go.”

Sequim City Band members have said that the practice hall, built in 2005, could comfortably accommodate about 35 people, but they have as many as 70 players now and other groups use the space, including the Sequim Community Orchestra and Strings Kids Music Education Program.

Expansion of the rehearsal space was amplified in early 2020, when COVID-19 restrictions forced band members to abandon thoughts of trying to play in its current space.

“There was no way we could play in this room with the safety protocols in place,” Benedict said Sunday, noting that Feb. 27, 2020, was the last time the band was able to host an indoor rehearsal there.

Fundraising began in earnest in June 2020, and since then, the group has raised about $1 million — 45 percent from state grants and others, and about 22 percent from band members themselves.

On hand Sunday was State Rep. Steve Tharinger, chair of House Capital Budget Committee. Tharinger, who represents Legislative District 24, is running to retain his seat in November.

The expansion, band representatives said, will enlarge the hall at Carrie Blake Community Park, which is adjacent to The James Center for Performing Arts, to nearly 2,500 square feet that will accommodate up to 75 musicians, add another bathroom, improve acoustics, lighting and a heating/ventilation system and keep the band’s music collection and instrument storage in the current space.

Band representatives signed the construction contract with Neeley Construction last Friday.

“It’s about a five-month project,” said Ed Collier, a superintendent with Neeley Construction, with finishing touches coming at the end of February 2023.

The current capital campaign, band representatives said, is for the building structure itself. A second phase of fundraising will include further interior modifications for sound control, equipping the IT/recording booth, updating chairs and updating storage for the music library that includes more than 1,300 pieces of sheet music.

The Sequim City Band has rehearsals from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Wednesdays at Dungeness Valley Lutheran Church, 925 N. Sequim Ave. Upcoming concerts include Oct. 29 and a traditional holiday concert on Dec. 18, both at the Sequim High School auditorium, 533 N. Sequim Ave.

Donations to the Sequim City Band, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, can be made at sequimcityband.org under the “Rehearsal Hall Expansion” tab, or mailed to PO Box 1745, Sequim WA 98382; designate “Rehearsal Hall Expansion” or “Building Fund” to direct a donation specifically to the project.

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Michael Dashiell is the editor of the Sequim Gazette of the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which also is composed of other Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News and Forks Forum. Reach him at editor@sequimgazette.com.

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