Interim manager takes over at Fort Worden State Park for year
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Charlie Bermant/Peninsula Daily News
Brian Hageman, 40, comes to Fort Worden State Park from Lake Sylvia State Park in Montesano.

By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News

PORT TOWNSEND — Fort Worden State Park's new interim manager will be in place through the end of this year.

After that, the job could be redefined with respect to the Lifelong Learning Center Public Development Authority.

“Right now, I'm learning,” said Brian Hageman, 40, a 17-year employee of Washington State Parks who was most recently manager of Lake Sylvia State Park, an old logging camp in a wooded area halfway between Olympia and the Pacific shore.

“There is a lot to learn,” said Hageman, who started Monday, “and I am not going to try to shake the boat until I get my feet on the ground.”

Hageman, who will earn a $76,536 annual salary, will manage the park and supervise the 26-person staff during the period that the public development authority is creating a co-management plan with State Parks.

The agreement is that the PDA will manage the campus area — about one-fourth of the 434-acre park, which contains most of the buildings — as a “lifelong learning center.”

Meanwhile, State Parks will continue management of the campgrounds, Chinese gardens, trails, lighthouse and shoreline.

The idea to turn the Fort Worden campus into a learning center was first discussed in 2004 but moved toward implementation only last year through a public development authority created by the city of Port Townsend.

The public development authority held several public meetings and developed a business plan that was approved by the state Parks and Recreation Commission in December.

In the coming six months, a co-management plan will be developed, and the rest of the year will be taken to implement the plan in anticipation of a Jan. 1, 2014, startup date.

Hageman said the Fort Worden manager's job will not be advertised until after the first of the year.

He will decide then if he will apply for the permanent position.

Hageman's tenure represents the second change of management at the park in as many years.

Kate Burke, who was hired in 2002, was displaced in early 2012 by longtime State Parks employee Allison Alderman after Alderman's job was eliminated.

Alderman left in January for a job in Olympia, and Hageman was recruited to fill the position until the public development authority takes over.

Hageman said he knows about most of the issues regarding the PDA and planned to address that board this morning.

“Kate Burke did great things for the park and the community, but she was not a traditional park manager,” Hageman said of Burke, who was hired from outside the park system.

Burke had a business background and had worked for a municipal parks and recreation system in Indianapolis.

“When the PDA takes over the campus, it may be time to hire someone to help manage what we traditionally manage, like campgrounds and trails and beaches.”

Hageman — who has a wife and two children, a 9-year-old daughter and a 4-year-old son — is a second-generation park employee; his father was a park ranger and manager, and Hageman grew up around park workers.

Hageman earned a bachelor's degree in justice and law enforcement but switched gears in 1994 to attend ranger school when he decided he'd rather work for the parks.

Hageman likes the variety of park management.

“As a park ranger, you are always doing something different every day and in every season,” he said.

“In the summer, you have to manage the staff, and in the winter, you get involved in projects that you couldn't do in the busy season.

“In the spring, you become what I call a 'lawn ranger' because you do an awful lot of mowing and trimming.”

There are also some unexpected tasks.

“For some reason, when I went to the park ranger academy, they didn't tell me how often I'd be dealing with sewers,” he said.

Money is always an issue, as the Park Service is uncertain as to how much money it will get from the state.

Part of the job is enforcing the Discover Pass, a $30 annual fee to enter any of the 117 state parks that was established in July 2011 to generate revenue for the cash-strapped agency.

Hageman said that the Discover Pass is a concept “some have embraced, and others have fought.”

Hageman said the pass was rushed into service without a proper public explanation, angering some who were forced to pay for acces that had been free.

Whether it stays in its current form or is revised, Hageman said, the pass has a positive influence on one aspect of the parks.

“The Discover Pass is a good investment in the parks, and people realize that,” he said.

“It has kept people away from the parks who don't come to recreate; it discourages those who would come to vandalize the parks or just hang out.

“So we are getting more people who enjoy recreation and see its value,” he said.



Jefferson County Editor Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or at charlie.bermant@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: February 06. 2013 11:09AM
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