By Joe Smillie
Peninsula Daily News
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The requirement was part of a pact created by the city after the Sequim Lavender Farmers Association broke off from the Sequim Lavender Growers Association.
The Sequim City Council on Monday night approved a settlement agreement with the growers association on a 5-1 vote, with Councilman Erik Erichsen voting against it and Councilman Ted Miller abstaining.
“We’re just looking forward to our free lavender festival this summer,” Paul Jendrucko, spokesman for the Sequim Lavender Growers Association.
The farmers’ group split off from the growers’ group before the 2011 Lavender Festival, with the growers association holding the Sequim Lavender Festival — which offers free tours of farms and a street fair in downtown Sequim — and the farmers association hosting the Sequim Lavender Farm Faire — which offers paid “heritage farm” tours and a free fair in Carrie Blake Park.
The city of Sequim uses the term, “Sequim Lavender Weekend” for all of the events, which will be July 19-21 this year, and contracted with both groups to combine advertising efforts.
“The real goal there was to move forward with a unified effort,” said Barb Hanna, city communications and marketing director.
In 2012, the city brokered a deal to use proceeds from its lodging tax revenue to pay $3,250 for shuttles around festival and $2,000 for maps and banners.
Another $6,400 from the lodging tax fund paid for additional requirements of city services like police and road crews, according to Elray Konkel, the city’s administrative services director.
In return, said City Attorney Craig Ritchie, the two groups agreed to include each other in promotional materials and information booths, as well as folding their separate festivals into the “Sequim Lavender Weekend” brand.
“The city wanted to promote the lavender weekend so everything was under one umbrella,” Ritchie said.
“We’re trying to get so this is one big happy event, even though they’re two separate groups.”
City officials said that the growers’ group failed to use the Sequim Lavender Weekend brand in all advertising.
In the settlement approved Monday, the city dropped its option to pursue what Ritchie called its “full liquidated damages,” which he said could have been as high as $12,000.
Jendrucko said the $12,000 was a figure outlined if one of the groups had violated all of the terms of the contract, not for a few.
“He’s obviously not interpreting the same document we signed,” Jendrucko said.
Miller said the council voted in favor of the settlement out of fairness.
“The Farmers Association scrupulously adhered to their agreement,” Miller said.
“To let it go would not have been fair to the farmers.”
The split vote
Erichsen said after the vote that he voted against the settlement “because I disagreed with it,” but would not explain his reasoning.
Miller said he abstained because he wanted more time to consider the deal, which was presented to the council in executive session for the first time after Monday’s regular council meeting, before casting a voting in one session.
“I didn’t think I had enough time to ensure we had come up with a reasoned solution,” Miller said.
City officials said they hoped the settlement would make for a smoother festival this summer.
Ritchie said the groups and the city are currently negotiating revisions to the contract for the 2013 edition.
“It’s a work in progress,” Ritchie said.
“We’re on track to get a good contract for the next go-around,” Jendrucko said.
Sequim-Dungeness Valley Editor Joe Smillie can be reached at 360-681-2390, ext. 5052, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.