City Council accepts public’s Gateway Center choice

Survey process resulted in preference toward all-new materials in a design resembling lumber stacks

The Aberdeen City Council on Wednesday approved a resolution selecting a design concept that doesn’t incorporate facades from the old Selmer’s Building for the proposed Gateway Center, a visitor and enterprise building being planned for the northeast corner of Wishkah and F streets.

A public survey process indicated a preference for the design and Mayor Erik Larson said the public input made him “very happy.”

Specifically, 55 percent of the respondents expressed preference for Option No. 1, the design resembling lumber drying stacks seen in old-time mills while 45 percent were partial to the brick design that would have included the facades of the existing Selmer’s building, referred to as Option No. 2.

A petition seeking to have a design including the facades presented to the public for consideration resulted in a fourth survey being added. The wood design had already received the most favorable responses from among four styles created for community review and the process was nearing its end. A design incorporating the brick facades of the old building was provided to the public for a final round of opinion gathering.

The city’s Historic Preservation Commission recommended the old Selmer’s be preserved in its entirety — even if that meant shoring up that building and constructing a second building to serve the needs of the center. The state Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation also determined the old Selmer’s is a structure eligible for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places.

The entire four-part survey process garnered a total of almost 1,000 respondents from across Grays Harbor County. It was “pretty impressive the number of people who responded to this survey,” said council member Tim Alstrom.

The council OK’d paying more money to Coates Design Architects, the firm that created various style concepts for the look of the center, organized the public gatherings and carried out the surveying. Their additional work to prepare for and complete tasks related to the additional project survey came to a total bill of $89,361 — $23,041 more than originally anticipated.

“It looked beautiful,” Larson said about the resulting concept that featured the facades.

StoryForce, the Seattle firm that handled public relations tasks related to the center, can do up to $30,000 more work for this project. The council authorized Larson to negotiate and enter into a contract with this firm to continue PR for the center as needed.

State flag to fly outside City Hall

A Washington State flag will be displayed outside Aberdeen City Hall after four or five years without one, a council member estimates.

Council member James Cook told council members the state flag should be hanging outside City Hall and they agreed by voting to direct Larson to see about changing the display. The U.S. and city of Aberdeen flags have been flying at City Hall but all three flags can’t fly together because of way the pole is designed. The city flag will come down and the state flag will go up.

There is enough display space outside the Rotary Log Pavilion to hang all three, however, Larson said.

After Cook said the Revised Code of Washington also requires display of the U.S., state and POW/MIA flags on several occasions each year, Alstrom said he wanted to research the topic and opted to vote against the proposal.

Cook asked for a roll call vote and the council decided to have the city flag taken down outside City Hall. Council member Alan Richrod suggested fixing the City Hall outdoor flag display pole so all three flags could hang at the same time.

Resident John Barclay, who designed the city flag and presented it this past summer to the council, said he would simply like to see the U.S., state and city flags hanging in council chambers on the wall behind the council seating area.

Mayor recuses self

Larson, who works for Vaughan Chopper Pumps near Montesano, recused himself while the council approved the purchase from that company of a six-inch trash pump to use on its clean water unit. Vaughan was the low-bidder for the item, which will cost $18,171.

The other bidder, Seattle Pump, said their pump would cost the city $21,876, according to the Public Works Department.