Levi Meinzer walks his dog, Dottie, on Monday on Oak Street outside a fenced-in lot where construction is expected to begin soon on the Field Arts & Events Hall in downtown Port Angeles. (Paul Gottlieb/Peninsula Daily News)

Levi Meinzer walks his dog, Dottie, on Monday on Oak Street outside a fenced-in lot where construction is expected to begin soon on the Field Arts & Events Hall in downtown Port Angeles. (Paul Gottlieb/Peninsula Daily News)

State permit for Field Arts & Events Hall expected Friday

Development in Port Angeles would be followed by heavy equipment staging

PORT ANGELES — The expected issuance Friday of a state permit for the Field Arts & Events Hall will be followed next Monday by workers driving heavy equipment onto the property to begin site preparation in the coming days.

Chris Fidler, Port Angeles Waterfront Center executive director, said Monday that the state Department of Ecology’s issuance of the construction stormwater permit Friday, the final day of a public comment period, will herald the birth of a performance venue expected to open its doors to public performances by August 2021.

Information on the permits is available at tinyurl.com/PDN-Stormwater Permits. Send comments to P.O. Box 47696, Olympia, Wash., 98504-7696.

Ecology spokesperson Jeff Zenk said Monday that no comments had been received.

“All things appear to be in order with the application,” he said. “We’re planning on issuing the permit, barring any relevant comments, on Nov. 8.”

Heavy machinery will be staged inside the fenced-in corner of West Front and Oak streets.

Pile-driving for the 41,000-square-foot performance center will be the next step, starting on a schedule Fidler said he will release publicly Friday.

He said he’ll be going door-to-door this week, visiting downtown business owners to clue them in first on construction details for the $34 million project.

The stormwater permit is “the final piece” of the project’s set-up phase, Fidler said.

“We’re all set,” he said.

He recalled the Oct. 18 groundbreaking ceremonies, when an excavator ceremoniously scooped from a mound of piled-up dirt to kick off the project while local dignitaries were gathered under a large tent.

“I’m very pleased about being able to have our ceremony, get our permits and begin work all within a two-week window,” he said. “I can see the horizon.”

He said construction, expected to be completed by May 2021, will be followed by three months of commissioning the facility, during which much of the equipment will be installed and staff trained.

“Then, we’ll be ready to open our doors,” Fidler said.

Fidler has estimated the staff would number between six and 12 employees.

The performing arts center will be located where a Black Ball Ferry parking lot was situated on an otherwise grassy, vacant 1.6-acre parcel known, until now, more as a prime kite-flying location and seagull stop than a cultural nexus.

Fidler said he’s heard no concerns about an inability to find parking with the loss of parking spaces.

“Everybody’s finding a home,” he said, including long-term, month-to-month parking users.

The entire 1.6-acre parcel includes the Field Hall, which covers 1.07 acres.

The remaining portion will be occupied by a planned Feiro Marine Life Center and national marine sanctuary building and a longhouse cultural activities center constructed by the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe.

Construction equipment for Field Hall will be parked where the longhouse and Feiro-sanctuary facilities will be built.

Fidler said organizers of the Waterfront Center, the moniker for the entire parcel, meet monthly with representatives of the two projected occupants every month.

Their projects are in their infancies.

“Everything I’ve heard is that they are making progress along the lines of where we were three years ago when we started,” Fidler said.

One tenant open year-round in Field Hall will be an as-yet undetermined coffee shop.

Fidler said solicitations of interest will be issued to various companies and interested parties — including coffee-shop giant Starbucks — followed by requests for proposals.

He said he’s already had inquiries from Peninsula College and Olympic Medical Center about holding conferences at Field Hall.

The 45-foot-tall building will include room to seat 300 banquet-conference participants, along with the 500-seat Morris Hall performance venue and a 1,000-square-foot art gallery.

The late Donna M. Morris, who died in 2014, bequeathed the initial $9 million for design, construction and maintenance of a performing arts center in Port Angeles.

The Waterfront Center parcel was purchased with a $1.43 million donation from Dorothy Field.

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Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at [email protected].

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