Port Angeles council OKs funds for park project

By Jeremy Schwartz
Peninsula Daily News

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PORT ANGELES — Final design work on a city park proposed for western downtown can move forward now that the City Council has approved more money for the contract.

City planning staff continues to seek funding that could allow park construction to begin as early as this summer.

City Council members approved 5-1 Tuesday a $168,615 amendment to the city’s contract with Spokane-based architectural firm Studio Cascade Inc.

The addition was to allow construction-bid-ready designs to be completed for the West End Park proposed for the area just east of the Valley Creek Estuary.

With the amendment approved, Studio Cascade’s design contract with the city grew from about $1.3 million to roughly $1.5 million.

Councilman Max Mania opposed the amendment, saying he supported the idea of a park but that the city does not have the funds to pay for it at this time.

Mania did applaud the work of city Assistant Planner Roberta Korcz, who has worked to secure about $802,000 in grant funds to go toward construction of the park and the adjoining esplanade construction along Railroad Avenue.

“If this whole project were grant-funded, I could be a lot more excited about it,” Mania said Tuesday night.

The West End Park and the esplanade construction are the first two phases of the city’s $17 million overall waterfront transportation improvement plan.

Nathan West, the city’s community and economic development director, said the design work to be completed will allow the city to go out for bid on initial park construction by this July, once about $959,000 in additional funding has been secured.

“[West End Park] is going to happen,” West said Wednesday.

“It’s just a question of how soon the funding is available.”

The city has set aside about $1.4 million in grants and matching city funds to build the park, West added.

In a presentation to the City Council on Tuesday, Dean Koonts, with Seattle-based HBB Architecture and the landscape architect on the project, said West End Park’s two new small beaches and a paved portion of the Waterfront Trail slated to wind through the park will cost about $2.4 million to build.

City staff have identified these two elements as top priorities for construction, though future features of the estimated $3.2 million park would include a paved plaza and spray fountain abutting Oak Street, and circular gathering areas near the existing whale vertebra sculpture to the west.

Koonts said the city also has worked with members of the Lower Elwha Klallam tribe to develop Klallam language names for the beaches, names intended to be embedded in the concrete surfaces leading up to them.

A historic timeline highlighting significant human activity around the area of West End Park, from the first known human presence about 2,700 years ago, also will be installed, Koonts said.

West said the city has about $911,000 in pending grant requests lined up for the park, though he could not say Wednesday if the city will hear if the project has been awarded those grants by this July.

If funding is not secured by this summer, West said, staff will hold off on putting the project out to bid until next spring, planning construction for July 2014.

“Either way, it’s our goal to end up with either a summer 2013 or summer 2014 start date for the project,” West said.

Reporter Jeremy Schwartz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5074, or at jschwartz@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: March 20. 2013 5:42PM
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