This summer, surveys will go out to help redesign Centennial Place at the northeast corner of Sequim Avenue and Washington Street. Sequim city councilors seek design options before allocating funds to the project they decided on March 8. (Photo courtesy of Silas Crews)

This summer, surveys will go out to help redesign Centennial Place at the northeast corner of Sequim Avenue and Washington Street. Sequim city councilors seek design options before allocating funds to the project they decided on March 8. (Photo courtesy of Silas Crews)

Sequim seeks concepts before allocating funds to downtown redesign

Staff say preliminary funding would help with grant requests

SEQUIM — A survey of community’s thoughts on redesigning Centennial Place, the northeast corner of Washington Street and Sequim Avenue, will begin May 1, Sequim city staff said.

How much funding will go to the project — dubbed Sequim Understory — will depend on concepts, the Sequim City Council decided. On March 8, with council member Brandon Janisse opposed, they decided to proceed with seeking concepts but to hold off on allocating up to $450,000 over three years for the project.

Council member Keith Larkin said he didn’t want to allocate funds before they knew what they were doing.

“I do know we’re going to get a lot of community involvement, and I’m 100 percent behind that, but it’s a long reach for $150,000 a year when we don’t even know the concepts,” he said.

“I’d be happy to get us through surveying process first.”

The two-year project follows the Creative Placemaking process, Sequim’s arts coordinator Aurora Lagattuta said, with questions such as “How do you want to feel?” and “What do you want to do here?”

The surveys will be online, be sent through standard mail and be available at places and events such as the Sequim Farmers Market from May through August.

Lagattuta said the survey will include objective and subjective questions about the corner space.

In September and October, a team of city staffers will review and synthesize the data looking for common themes and desires alongside budget viability, Lagattuta said.

A list of about 10 options will be presented for city council members to review in November and the public will vote on them sometime in early 2022, she said.

On April 1, two artists will be selected to engage with the public about what Sequim means to them, and their findings will be presented to the community, such as in paintings and/or song to reflect on the city and planning direction.

The artists are not designing the space, Lagattuta said, but rather providing another viewpoint on the area and potential project.

Jason Loihle, Sequim’s parks and arts manager, said the city has “the ability to have something really nice and permanent” with the project.

He and Lagattuta said they asked for funding to have set limits and some funding in place as they seek grants prior to setting the concepts for the downtown corner.

“When we receive input, city staff will review them and then we have a number to check them on,” Lagattuta said.

“If everyone in city wants a waterslide, then we need to see if that’s something we can even afford.”

Sequim public works director Matt Klontz said city contributions often help provide the maximum possibility for receiving grants as it shows a commitment from the city officials.

Loihle said the proposed amount wasn’t necessarily how much the project would cost.

Deputy Mayor Tom Ferrell said he saw the financial commitment as a “two-edged sword.”

“I don’t want $150,000 to be a limiting factor,” he said.

“Although Keith and I agree we can’t say $150,000 right now, I also don’t want to plan just to $150,000 and slow down the project in 2022.”

Larkin felt the city could easily budget for the project in 2022 after receiving concepts.

“I just feel like we’re getting the cart ahead of the horse with half a million dollars for a project we don’t have a concept in,” he said.

Janisse, who proposed an effort to redesign Centennial Place, didn’t say why he voted against the March motion, but in a letter to constituents wrote that he thinks setting the amount at $450,000 ensures a benchmark and is “not set back due to multiple projects being too expensive.”

“I support staff in their request, and back the project to redesign Centennial Place,” he wrote. “I hope everyone puts in their ideas when this starts to move forward in the very near future.

Centennial Place was purchased by the city in its centennial year in 2013.

For more information about the proposed project, visit sequimcityarts.com or contact Aurora Lagattuta at [email protected]

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