Sequim city council members approved a $2.45 million purchase of 16.52 acres off West Hendrickson Road to be used for a future park. It remains closed to the public as it’s being leased for agricultural use until plans and funding can be put in place for the future park. (Matthew Nash/Olympic Peninsula News Group)

Sequim city council members approved a $2.45 million purchase of 16.52 acres off West Hendrickson Road to be used for a future park. It remains closed to the public as it’s being leased for agricultural use until plans and funding can be put in place for the future park. (Matthew Nash/Olympic Peninsula News Group)

Sequim purchases 16 acres for park

City negotiated with McCord family for 2 years

SEQUIM — The city of Sequim has finalized a $2.45 million purchase of 16.52 acres of farmland for a future park.

City council members unanimously approved the purchase on May 13, and the location — on the north side of the 800 block of West Hendrickson Road between Kendall Road and North Seventh Avenue — was made public when the sale closed last week.

“It’s very exciting,” city council member Kathy Downer said during the May 13 meeting. “The city of Sequim remains committed to outdoor park space. It’s a long-lasting legacy.”

City staff said the land was owned by the late Ruth C. McCord, whose family wanted Sequim to honor her wishes that it be used as a park for children and seniors.

Once open to the public, the property will be called Ruth C. McCord Memorial Park, said Hannah Merrill, Sequim parks and events manager.

McCord’s son said in a press release that his mom “fell in love instantly with Sequim and couldn’t wait to make Sequim our home in the early 1980s.”

“She loved everything about ‘Sunny Sequim,’ especially the friendly people, herds of cows, wonderful old red barns, vast farmlands, gorgeous mountain views, the Dungeness River, and especially the beautiful trees,” he said.

“I think Sequim reminded mom of her early years living on a farm in Kansas.”

Over the years, McCord turned down multiple offers for the land, Scott McCord said, because “she believed she was caretaking a wonderful piece of Sequim for a special use in the future.”

He said pursuing a memorial park after her death was the right choice to “bless lives of children and the elderly.”

“I think mom is smiling down from heaven knowing her land will forever be a place for children and animals to play, the elderly to visit, the weary to rest and refresh, and everyone to enjoy,” he said.

Sequim staff said they’re planning a dedication and naming ceremony in the near future.

Park identified

Merrill said McCord’s property was one of four possible park locations identified on a 2015 land use map with an asterisk over it.

She said it’s in an ideal location by the Olympic Discovery Trail, within walking distance of Sequim schools and in an underserved area of the city for parks.

“The space, where it is, is invaluable,” Merrill said.

She said she cold-called the McCord family in late summer 2022 to gauge their interest and learned of Ruth McCord’s death.

The property wasn’t for sale, Merrill said, but city staff and the McCord family remained in discussions while they waited on grant funding to help with a purchase.

Sequim was earmarked for $546,000 in grants over two years from the state Legislature to help with the approximate $2.452 million purchase.

City staff said they used monies from the Rainy Day Fund, Real Estate Excise Taxes (REET) fund, park impact fees and the general fund reserve.

Sue Hagener, Sequim’s director of administrative services, said on May 13 that state funds will go back into the city’s Rainy Day Fund along with any grants they might receive in the future for the project.

According to the city’s recent survey of 506 residents, 89 percent said they support the purchase of property for the creation of additional parks and/or open spaces.

Leasing, future plans

The acreage is currently being leased for agricultural use and not open to the public as staff report they need more funding to help with its development.

Merrill said staff intend to seek a master plan — done for all parks — with community input on their vision for its layout and priorities.

Because of its size and scope, she said the city will likely need a consulting firm to help gather that information.

As for timing of developing a plan, Merrill said, “we’re still working on that.”

“This year would be information gathering and budget planning, and part of that is we want this to meet community need, and that’s a process that’s going to take some time,” she said.

Along with the purchase and day-to-day maintenance, rentals and usage, Merrill said staff’s focus has been on actively seeking funds for new playground equipment at Margaret Kirner Park, funding Centennial Place at the northeast corner of Sequim Avenue and Washington Street, and developing other parks’ master plans.

During the pandemic, Merrill said city staff saw more people going outside, using green space and “seeing the value” in being outside or in a recreational space.

“This (parks purchase) has been so exciting,” she said.

City parks

Sequim has eight city-owned parks encompassing a combined 117 acres, not including the new park space.

Parks funding has increased slightly over the last decade for more staff and projects, although many projects depend on grants and/or community donations. The city also shares in maintenance at some sites with nonprofit organizations.

Council members directed staff recently to bring discussion options for creating a parks district to help fund projects.

Some notable projects include:

• In 2008, the city bought 35 acres of land for $806,610 and received another 10 acres from family members to create Joseph Keeler Memorial Park by U.S. Highway 101. It’s remained a passive space since the purchase.

• The Albert Haller Playfields opened in 2012 following fundraising efforts by community members with Sequim Family Advocates in the northern part of Carrie Blake Community Park. The city added a new driveway and parking spaces in 2016.

• Guy Cole Event Center was reopened in May 2017 after a large percentage of it was renovated in Carrie Blake Community Park, costing about $340,000 using a state grant.

• The Sequim pickleball courts opened in July 2018 after Sequim Picklers raised almost $300,000, not including donated land from the city, and donated architecture work.

• Sequim City Band built a new rehearsal hall at the James Center for Performing Arts in Carrie Blake Community Park worth $1.4 million using a combination of state grants, band member donations and community support. It opened in April 2023 while the James Center opened for use in 2005.

• Earlier this year, the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe paid for the first phase of the parking lot renovation of Dr. James Standard Little League Park on West Silberhorn Road for about $1 million.

For more about City of Sequim parks, visit sequimwa.gov.

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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 matthew.nash@sequimgazette.com.

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