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Council: Rebuild the RAC
By Mark St.J. Couhig
Forks Forum Editor
On Wednesday, May 29, the Forks City Council agreed to rebuild the Rainforest Arts Center at its former location.
That’s one decision down, many, many more to go.
The council was asked to choose between two options: accept a cash-only payout of $1.1 million, or rebuild, which would result in a $2.7 million check.
City Planner/Attorney Rod Fleck explained the difference, saying it could be likened to an insurance payout on a wrecked car. The first figure, he said, is the value of the former RAC building at the time of the 2012 fire. The second is the cost to replace it with a new facility.
A number of community members were present at the meeting to promote rebuilding the facility, including Steve Kreibel, vice president of the Rainforest Players, who said he was in favor of building the new facility where the old one was located.
He said the “Odd Fellows gave us that wonderful building and it would disrespect them” not to rebuild it.
Ellen Matheny said the community will support the decision to rebuild in the former spot.
John Richmond, Master of the Quillayute Valley Grange, said his membership voted unanimously to rebuild the facility on the former site.
In the end, the council voted 5-1 to rebuild the facility, with Councilor John Hinchen saying he felt the decision was rushed. He also suggested the now-empty lot could be put to a better use. “That lot’s too small and there’s no parking,” he said.
The council’s vote authorized the mayor and staff to begin work toward building the facility, including soliciting designers, seeking permits and conducting additional fundraising.
The decision was timely.
A number of students from the University of Washington’s Department of Architecture were in Forks on Saturday, June 1, to present nine concepts for replacing the old building.
The students are working under contract with the city to come up with options that will be further evaluated by the community. They’ll use the community responses to further fine-tune the designs.