SEQUIM –– Controlling the growth of Sequim will be the key to ensuring the city remains “small-town friendly,” Mayor Candace Pratt told the Sequim-Dungeness Valley Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday.
That makes the comprehensive plan update “a real critical issue,” City Manager Steve Burkett told more than 100 people who attended a luncheon at SunLand Golf & Country Club.
“The irony is, if you have a great place to live, sometimes, without good planning, a lot of people move there, and then it’s not the place it used to be,” Burkett added.
Pratt and Burkett spoke about the city government’s role in development of the city, both culturally and economically.
“A lot of people talk about things like jobs and economic development,” Burkett said.
“The city doesn’t create jobs. Our role really is to create an environment so other people want to live here and then businesses can come and support the people that live here.”
That means making sure infrastructure is in place to accommodate new residents and businesses, he said.
“Our primary goal in economic development is to provide mundane services like streets, water systems, sewer systems . . . so it is a great place to live and a great place to do business,” Burkett said.
Comprehensive plan update
To maintain Sequim’s “small-town friendly atmosphere, the city is assembling updates to its comprehensive plan that are designed to keep agricultural lands open, increase the density of development downtown and make the city more walkable,” Pratt said.
The update to the comprehensive plan is expected to go before the City Council later this year.
Burkett said the focus on downtown development will help Sequim avoid becoming like many towns that have had their downtowns abandoned in favor of big-box commercial retail centers on their outskirts.
“The council and myself believe that the downtown is really the heart and soul of a friendly town,” he said.
A component of that development will be the construction this year of a new City Hall downtown.
Fencing was erected around the west 100 block of Cedar Street on Monday as construction crews prepare to demolish the old City Hall and apartment buildings in preparation for construction of a new $15 million facility that will house administration offices and a police department.
Crews with Spokane-based Lydig Construction will begin demolition of the buildings in the next couple of weeks, Burkett said.
Lydig, awarded an $11.8 million contract to build the new City Hall, will begin construction on the new facility in June.
Burkett said the Jamestown S’Klallam tribe is designing a totem pole to be placed outside the new City Hall in a plaza that will front Sequim Avenue.
The plaza also will be the home to the Sequim Farmers Market when City Hall is completed, expected in the middle of next year.
Arts commission on agenda
The city is also looking to assemble an arts advisory commission that will oversee public art projects in Sequim, particularly those planned to decorate the public areas outside the new City Hall, Pratt said.
If approved by the council, the commission will establish guidelines to spur more public art projects, to maintain them, to make sure artists receive proper recognition and to develop standards that such art pieces must meet.
If the council approves formation of the commission, the city will ask for volunteers to serve on it.
Patches focus of street repairs
On the “mundane” side, Burkett laid out the city’s plans to maintain its 54 miles of streets and 30 miles of sidewalks this year.
Unlike past years when the city undertook extensive rebuilds of streets, Burkett said the city will focus more on “extensive patching of streets.”
Pratt also said the council is looking to develop a set of standards for streets built by private developers.
Some owners of private infrastructure have asked the city to take over their streets or water systems, she said.
The council wants to make sure it has a set of standards “so we don’t assume any major liability for the city,” Pratt said.
________Sequim-Dungeness Valley Editor Joe Smillie can be reached at 360-681-2390, ext. 5052, or at email@example.com.