Residents of The Vintage at Sequim, an affordable senior housing facility on Brackett Road, are walking with a spring in their steps following a significant donation on Monday, Nov. 21.
Sequim Walmart gave $20,000 from a charitable contribution fund to the City of Sequim to construct a pathway along the road to increase pedestrian safety to and from the store.
David Garlington, Sequim city engineer, said there are plans for the project estimated at about $25,000, with construction bids going out soon. Any remaining costs will come from city funds, he said.
The new 6-foot-wide pathway will stretch from The Vintage to Priest Road on the south side of Brackett Road.
“This is an interim measure,” Garlington said. “As commercial properties develop, then we’ll get more into formalized sidewalk and curb installation.”
No new development along Brackett is planned at this time but properties west of The Vintage are zoned for commercial use. Brackett Road currently measures 19-20 feet wide, which is smaller than standard city streets.
Pedestrians have the option to use a traffic light and crosswalk at the intersection of Washington Street and Priest Road. Vintage residents said that crosswalk is not close enough. Its accessibility for residents is debatable, too, since there are only two south, front-facing access points to Washington Street.
Vintage resident Andy Nilles, 91, began his quest in March for the city to make improvements at the intersection of Brackett Road with Priest Road, which runs on the east side of Walmart. Nilles and Betty Handly, property manager of The Vintage, received petition signatures from nearly 118 units of the facility and several local residents .
Nilles told the Gazette he thought the donation was great.
“Walmart has turned over backwards for this,” he said. “The walkway isn’t just for people from The Vintage. All sorts of people, like women with babies, use that road. I thought someone was going to get run over.”
Handly said residents were thrilled to learn the news.
“It’s a real victory,” she said. “Traffic is increasing out there but now people can ride their scooters or walk. I think it’s wonderful of Walmart. It’ll increase their trade and it increased my loyalty to them. Most of the credit goes to Andy. He went to a lot of the council meetings to talk about this. It’s just fabulous. We’re just jumping up around today.”
Tom Etchells, marketing manager for Walmart stores on the Olympic Peninsula, said they attributed the need for a pathway to the amount of foot traffic coming to the store.
“The focus for us is to have it be safe,” Etchells said.
“We walked it a few times over the past few years. If you aren’t a fast walker, it’s hard to get across quickly.”
Lee Ruiz, store manager of Sequim Walmart, started working with The Vintage by donating reflective vests; his crews also cleared garbage and bushes for walkers to go beside Brackett. Walmart trucks don’t drive on the road anymore, either.
“This is what it’s about,” Ruiz told a crowd of employees and city officials, “helping the community become a better place.”
The City of Sequim helped at the end of March to install an ADA-compliant ramp at the west end sidewalk along Brackett at The Vintage. City staff determined a four-way stop at Brackett and Priest would not be in compliance with road standards they must maintain.
Garlington said the city’s next steps are planning for future improvements at the Brackett and Priest intersection, including lighting the roadway and installing a crosswalk and more signage.
“We want to complement the pathway while getting people safely across,” he said.
The City of Sequim, 152 W. Cedar Street, can be reached at 683-4139.
Contact Sequim Walmart, 1110 W. Washington St., at 683-9346.
Reach Matthew Nash at firstname.lastname@example.org.