A car backs out of a parking space in the lot at Port Angeles City Pier on Wednesday. Public concerns about parking have prompted a rethinking of pier redesign plans. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

A car backs out of a parking space in the lot at Port Angeles City Pier on Wednesday. Public concerns about parking have prompted a rethinking of pier redesign plans. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

WEEKEND REWIND: Parking issue delays Port Angeles City Pier recommendation

PORT ANGELES — A consulting company has delayed a recommendation for City Pier’s future after online survey respondents were divided on the importance of retaining full use of a downtown parking lot at the site.

Spokane-based Studio Cascade’s final proposal was due today.

“It will be a couple [or] three weeks before we are able to have a document ready,” Bill Grimes, the principal consultant of Spokane-based Studio Cascade Inc., said Tuesday.

Participants at public studio meetings May 12-14 that focused on replacing the Feiro Marine Life Center with a new facility indicated that parking was of little importance to City Pier users.

“We had the scale tipped really in support of parking reduction,” Grimes said.

Those meetings resulted in two finalist designs dubbed Klallam Cover and Peabody Place whose features were ranked in a SurveyMonkey survey that asked respondent how well each design addressed their interests including parking, Hollywood Beach and an adjacent children’s play area.

About 70 people responded in a way different from those who attended the studio meetings.

“The survey was more evenly split,” Grimes said Tuesday.

“People seemed not to understand why parking was reduced to the level it was.

“We needed to put together a report that reflected the public process that we ran.

“What downtown is and resolving the challenges about parking is something that probably would necessitate a larger discussion.

“The look at City Pier has elevated it to a level of prominence now.”

What Grimes described as “downtown-wide topics” up for discussion could include parking, ferry loading and queuing, and “how people see the downtown evolving to best take advantage of the waterfront.”

Both plans call for a building at City Pier that would house Feiro Marine Life Center offices and exhibits, which are now at City Pier, and an Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary Visitor Center, run by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The building would replace the single-story, 3,500-square-foot Feiro center, already on City Pier, with a new two-story marine science discovery center of 13,400 to 16,000 square feet and costing $3 million to $3.6 million.

The new facility’s 10,000-square-foot footprint would dramatically cut into the existing parking lot.

The lot has 35 long-term parking spaces, including two for disabled-permit vehicles.

The parking area provides access to City Pier, the marine science center, Hollywood Beach, the nearby Landing mall where NOAA is now located and area stores and restaurants.

A Port Angeles Business Association face-to-face survey of parking lot users June 17-20 showed overwhelming support for keeping the parking lot as is, according to results presented June 21 to the City Council, which will decide the fate of the lot.

The PABA survey generated 127 responses from local-resident City Pier users in vehicles that held more than 400 City Pier-area visitors.

Of the 127 who responded, 62 were opposed to eliminating the lot, two were in favor, 36 did not express an opinion and 27 were neutral.

“What we are looking to do is trying to find an opportunity for efficiencies and perhaps multiple uses in the City Pier concept so we can accomplish a variety of things and not have quite such a black-and-white trade-off to the degree Peabody Place and Klallam Cove suggested,” Grimes said.

“We are really in the schematic investigation of that right now.”

Studio Cascade spearheaded the development of the 2011 Waterfront and Transportation Improvement Plan in which 22 City Pier parking lot spaces were replaced with angle parking located three blocks east of Feiro on Railroad Avenue and Oak Street.

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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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