Fort Worden group application is finalist for national grant of six figures

By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News

PORT TOWNSEND — A joint grant application by Centrum and the Fort Worden Public Development Authority could help to provide a roadmap for the operation of the reorganized park.

The applicants have been notified that they are finalists for the grant from ArtPlace America, a Chicago-based coalition of foundations, government agencies and financial institutions that distributes community-improvement grants ranging from $100,000 to $750,000.

“If we get this grant, the money will be used for a whole bunch of things,” said Centrum Executive Director Rob Birman.

“We’d like to develop a creative design process aimed to identify the roles that all of the partners at Fort Worden will develop our program options, using an architect to accomplish this.”

The Port Townsend project includes support in the design of a master plan for developing Fort Worden State Park buildings into a national center for arts and culture.

The buildings, many of which have been remodeled, date back to when picturesque Fort Worden was an Army base until 1952.

Program and capital investments are included.

The project will involve local and regional community members and Fort Worden stakeholders in an intensive, participatory design process to expand artist residences, cultural and educational programs, and placement of public art.

Centrum Foundation has relied on grant funding throughout its existence, but this is the first joint request with the public development authority, which will take over the campus portion of the 434-acre park for a lifelong learning center.

Washington State Parks continues to manage the camping, beach and recreation areas.

The building portions take up about one-fourth the Fort Worden property.

While Centrum applied for the grant, it will benefit all of the park partners, which include the Port Townsend Marine Science Center, the Port Townsend School of Woodworking, Peninsula College, Goddard College and the Madrona MindBody Institute.

Birman said he is optimistic about receiving the grant, but it’s not a sure thing. Of 1,270 original applicants, the Fort Worden project is one of 97 finalists.

About 50 or 60 of the finalists will receive funding, Birman said.

The application asks for $450,000, which is in the middle range of the grant bequests, Birman said.

The projects are proposed in communities of all sizes throughout the nation, with 25 percent describing themselves as rural, 5 percent as suburban and 70 percent as urban.

Of the finalist projects, 78 percent have been proposed by organizations that have never before been an ArtPlace finalist, including Centrum and the Fort Worden Public Development Authority.

To date, ArtPlace has invested $42.1 million in 134 projects in 80 communities across the nation.

ArtPlace’s announcements will be made in June, one month after the Fort Worden Public Development Authority assumes its co-management role over the campus at Fort Worden in partnership with the Washington State Parks Commission.

If the grant is not approved, other funding sources will be explored and secured, Birman said.

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Port Townsend/Jefferson County reporter Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or charlie.bermant@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: March 03. 2014 6:42PM
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