The Sidewalks of Sequim

This post is for Richard, who has introduced me to more interesting people and initiatives than anybody I know. He absorbs good ideas and passes them on.

Last week Jack and I traveled from Prince Rupert on the British Columbia Mainland just south of the Alaskan border to our house in Port Townsend. It’s a pleasant trip which with good planning and an air ticket can be done in a single day by public transportation. It starts with a Prince Rupert walk to free shuttle to free ferry after which bus shuttles onto a flat island with airport for a flight to Vancouver and 20 minutes to walk to nearby gate and catch another tiny plane to Victoria, a small convenient airport with BC transit service to the Inside Harbour from where there’s the Coho Ferry to Port Angeles and then a Clallam County Transit bus to Sequim before the home stretch – the Jefferson County Transit bus #8 to Port Townsend.

Our very last connection meant a two hour layover in Sequim, which surprised and delighted us.  Here are some pictures.

The first thing to catch my eye was this restroom which gives a delightful street face to a parking lot.  Note wayfinding signs, bulletin board, and trash and recycling bins.
Restroom is loaded with amenities on both sides. Attractive bike racks, landscaping, good signage and cultural information. Across the street is the new civic plaza.
Top of Totem
Totem dominating the civic plaza tells the story of the origin of the sun and the moon.
We’ve seen hundreds of totems this summer and this contemporary one by a Jamestown S’Kalallam carver is perhaps the most exquisitely designed and executed.
Sitting man
What a surprise to find this guy sitting on a plaza bench nearby!
Then we noticed started to notice very cool temporary public art all around.
Local textile artists had come out to celebrate Lavender Festival, which was last weekend.
Library Restroo
We went on to the library to get some juice for our devices. Restrooms there are in the entrance lobby, not hidden in the stacks. (Actually, I forget. This smart design might be in the new restroom structure four blocks away. )
Pocket Park Lavender
And at the corner, this. Two or three parking spaces given over to life. You can lie on these benches – no middle armrest obstructions. Color purple works nicely, abetted by simple lavender festival flags in every planter.
Corner of Parking Lot
Look at this community organization pile-on!  The Olympic Music School sponsors floral planter designed and grown by Sequim High Schoolers.
Painted Utility Box
Turning the corner onto the main street, we see more sophisticated art, this time decorating a utility box.  Nearby is a decorated piano waiting to be played and more lavender banners and OPEN signs.
Pocket Park
Then a full-fledged pocket park replete with a textile-artist enhanced bike rack and a neighborhood scale library. Okay, across at most ten urban blocks we find all these amenities and all these surprises. Sequim streetlife rocks!
PT Disappointemnt
Then we arrive in Port Townsend and I saw this. Is it new or had I not noticed? Sad, tacky, unwelcoming, inconvenient. And are these businesses being paid, as they would be under any good community toilet scheme?

We can do better.  Sequim should inspire us to action.


One thought on “The Sidewalks of Sequim

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  1. When Port Townsend’s Kah Tai Lagoon Nature Park was created in 1981, the park restrooms, built in ~1985 by volunteers, were intended to serve park users. In ~1994, the Jefferson Transit Authority’s Park & Ride was permitted to be built adjacent to the nature park, but the Environmental Determination, signed by City and transit staff, required that P&R users not put added pressure on the nature park. JTA was required to build berms around the P&R to protect the park. JTA was also required to identify alternate restrooms for users. As there were no JTA buildings at the P&R at that time, agreements were reached with McDonald’s and Safeway to allow restroom use by transit users (don’t know if the businesses are compensated). Now, 20+ years later, there is a transit building with interior ADA restrooms at the P&R, but public use is not allowed, and transit riders are sent to a port-a-john in the parking lot. We must work to change this situation.

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