Sequim finds higher prices for new parks, trails

SEQUIM – This city is moving toward pedestrian- and bicycle-friendliness, with some unexpected costs.

The Sequim City Council has voted unanimously for a plan devised by the Blue Ribbon Task Force, a group that spent months looking for potential park and trail sites in Sequim.

The task force advocated an expanded trails network throughout the city, including completion through town of the Olympic Discovery Trail via Spruce Street.

The Blue Ribbon report also recommends charging developers “in lieu” fees: Instead of requiring major subdivisions to have 10 percent of their land set aside as open space, fees can be paid into the city’s parkland acquisition fund.

Another leg of the Olympic Discovery Trail, meanwhile, was built this year on Sequim’s east side – at a cost that was much higher than projected.

The council had budgeted $388,000 to build the 3,500-foot stretch of trail at Sequim’s eastern city limit, said Karen Goschen, the city’s administrative services director, at Monday night’s meeting.

But contractor Lakeside Industries of Port Angeles and consulting firm Parametrix of Bellevue “found all kinds of problems: steep slopes, wetlands, ADA [Americans with Disabilities Act] issues,” said City Manager Bill Elliott.

The bill came to $483,133, Goschen said, adding, “We’ve been holding the Lakeside invoice since July,” awaiting City Council approval.

“What happened? I can’t imagine a more expensive way of building something,” asked Councilman John Beitzel.

The council ultimately voted 5-2 to authorize a payment of $121,732 to Lakeside for its work on the east side leg of the trail.

As for Parametrix’s bill of $110,438, the council chose to wait until that firm sends a representative to explain the cost overrun.

Fortunately for Sequim, the state will reimburse the city for 86 percent of the trail construction costs.

The Olympic Discovery Trail is envisioned ultimately to stretch approximately 100 miles from Port Townsend at the east end to the Pacific Coast at the west end.

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