Sequim plans Fourth of July fireworks

City Council considers options for old administration building

SEQUIM — City of Sequim officials are holding to plans for a Fourth of July fireworks display at Carrie Blake Community Park despite updated COVID-19 regulations for events.

At Monday’s city council meeting, Barbara Hanna, Sequim’s marketing and communications director, said Gov. Jay Inslee’s newest pandemic regulations allow events like the fireworks show with some provisions.

She said staff must monitor and control the number of people allowed in the park, with no more than 600 people per spectator acre, a number she and city staff are still trying to determine.

Participants in the park also must wear masks, she said.

“I was pretty concerned when I saw some of their requirements, but after meeting with the Public Works team, I feel more comfortable,” Hanna said. “Unless we slide backward (with COVID-19 regulations), we’re going to plan for it and continue forward.”

Western Display Fireworks of Canby, Ore., is contracted to perform a 20-minute show for $15,000, with funding from the Sequim Lodging Tax Advisory Committee budget.

The show would likely be at about 10 p.m. Sunday, July 4, Hanna previously said.

Staff with the fireworks company recently scouted locations with city staff, Hanna said, and they had no concerns about launching from the Albert Haller Playfields.

Volunteers with the Sequim Police Department and Community Emergency Response Team will be needed to monitor the event, she said.

City staff also are planning for contingencies for overflow parking as well.

“We’re fortunate it can be seen from a lot of places,” Hanna said.

No additional programming will be scheduled before the fireworks, she said, because of strict guidelines for outdoor music and food and beverage.

Discussions for a public fireworks show started around the time city residents decided in an advisory vote with 65.6 percent in favor to ban the discharge of consumer fireworks in November 2016; city council members passed the ban soon after the vote.

Old building

City council members made no decision Monday regarding the city’s 31-year-old, former Administration Building at 226 N. Sequim Ave.

Jason Loihle, Sequim’s parks/arts manager, provided four options: sell the 26,000-square-foot lot, lease the administrative building, remodel the building for $60,000-$100,000 or leave the building the same.

After an approximate 30-minute executive session, council members declined to commit to a decision.

The city also leases another property on the lot to Olympic Community Action Program’s (OlyCAP’s) Head Start building at 224 N. Sequim Ave., to “address the needs of families with children age five and younger,” according to OlyCAP’s website.

Loihle told council members that if they sold the lot, the Head Start building would be part of the deal.

He said the administration building has been empty for a number of years and used for storage, Meals on Wheels distribution and small city events.

Loihle said the building would need about $60,000 in work to make the building compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act and about $100,000 to include improvements for a potential lease agreement.

Loihle said there’s been a large interest in renting it, but agencies don’t have funding to make it ADA-accessible on their own even if the lease was small.

Council member Keith Larkin said prior to the executive session he wasn’t hearing a good use for the facility and that the “costs aren’t quite what we hoped,” so he recommended selling it.

Mayor William Armacost suggested turning it into parking because it’s a commodity in the city and that costs to renovate could grow larger than expected.

“We’d still retain the property,” he said. “I resist not using the piece of property to its best potential, but it’s got to pencil out.”

Council member Rachel Anderson said she did not participate in the executive session because she is a volunteer board member for OlyCAP and did not want to have a potential conflict of interest.

Loihle said city staff may bring back options for the building in the summer.

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Matthew Nash is a reporter with the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which is composed of Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News, Sequim Gazette and Forks Forum. Reach him at mnash@sequimgazette.com.

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