Blog: A Vision for City Pier

On the occasion of my two-year anniversary as the Executive Director of the Feiro (May 7th), I’d like to invite you to join me in developing a new vision for City Pier that combines the best of Feiro and the NOAA Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary in a new Marine Discovery Center.

When I arrived in Port Angeles, coming from the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, I thought that the story of our integration was nearly complete. Unfortunately, 6 weeks later the project as it stood, after long years of site research and design, fell through, causing the team to pivot in a search for a new home that would modernize our facility and allow education programming to flourish and grow.

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For the last several years we have been working on studying the feasibility of remaining on City Pier, in a larger facility that would provide a basecamp attraction to the entire Olympic Peninsula coast.  It has all the key things that Feiro needs, including the absolute requirement to draw and circulate sea water to house a local living animal collection. From finding funding to support specialized studies (environmental assessments and market studies) to coordinating the study production, and now to bringing forward a renewed look at the City Pier master plan, we have heard from many people how supportive and excited they are about this expansion project.

I’m excited, too. As I have practically lived on City Pier for the last two years, I have developed a few dreams of my own. This is a natural focal point for residents and visitors to the area. People stop here to picnic, play, swim, cool off, take in the views, use the restroom, listen to music, walk their dogs, catch a cruise ship, run, bike, kayak, and watch wildlife. (I may be actually forgetting a few things!)

My dream maximizes the benefit of City Pier to connect all to the place where the mountains meet the sea, by focusing on the local story of the ocean. By generating a park that includes marine discovery as its central theme, we can splash inviting visuals across the internet, and be known for more than just our observation tower.

My dreams mean that City Pier acts more like Mud Island, a Mississippi River experience in Memphis:

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or the Duluth Waterfront on the shore of Lake Superior in Minnesota, celebrating the giant “lakers” and other maritime heritage vessels of the Great Lakes:

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What if the entire pier were turned into a “marine discovery” themed park that celebrated the harbor cleanup, taught about tides, encouraged active outdoor exploration, offered opportunities to interpret animals in their natural habitats and included an engaging and educational indoor exhibit and education space.

That is to say, City Pier and Hollywood Beach would provide art, activities, play places, rest points, informational signs and a discovery center museum that all “helps you see under the sea” and bring our unique harbor and coastline to life.  It would draw even more people downtown, thus boosting the revenue for our local businesses, and create unique opportunities for partnerships – such as bringing NOAA research ships, tall ships and other unique resources to Port Angeles.

I have already been getting some suggestions that I feel are completely on point with this dream – places to hear recorded sounds of seals, whales, eagles, and other local wildlife, physical models of the harbor and Strait that you can walk into, art that helps understand the tidal changes seen on Hollywood Beach over the year, integration of Klallam stories, language and culture to highlight the many generations who have lived close to the sea, kayak rentals, trolley lock ups and floating docks to make access to the water more realistic, etc.

With a larger focus on our marine environment, it is natural that Feiro and the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary Marine Discovery Center would locate here.  I hope you will join me this week during the public open house and share your ideas for the Pier.

Also, mark your calendars for later this summer!

Feiro’s building is celebrating its 35th anniversary this year (1981), and we are pleased to join with the Port Angeles Regional Chamber of Commerce to throw a party to celebrate during Concerts on the Pier on July 13th. Black Diamond Junction will play crowd favorites, including some 80’s music. We’ll have a children’s ocean creature costume contest with prizes and other fun family-friendly activities! Hope to see you there.

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