Fort Worden Lifelong Learning Public Development Authority ready for transfer, director says
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Charlie Bermant/Peninsula Daily News
Fort Worden Lifelong Learning Public Development Authority Executive Director Dave Robison, left, listens to General Manager Michael Deighton’s report at a meeting Wednesday.

By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News

PORT TOWNSEND — Six weeks before the Fort Worden Lifelong Learning Public Development Authority takes over management of the campus portion of the state park in Port Townsend, everything is falling into place, according to the organization's executive director.

“A lot of things have taken longer than expected, but there aren't any bumps in the road,” Dave Robison said prior to a PDA board meeting Wednesday.

“We are moving ahead on all fronts and achieved all of our milestones.”

The board Wednesday also named former Rep. Lynn Kessler to the at-large position on the coordinating committee.

The coordinating committee contains two members each from parks and the PDA, and is charged with managing communications between the two agencies.

Kessler, a Democrat from Hoquiam, retired in 2010 after 18 years in the state Legislature, 12 as House majority leader.

Robison said the immediate goals are to get the reservation system in place, hook up to high-speed Internet, install a campus-wide Wi-Fi system and hire 10 employees.

State Parks is scheduled to cede management of part of the park May 1, according to the terms of a 50-year lease signed Nov. 8.

The PDA will oversee the campus portions of the 434-acre park, which includes most of the buildings, for educational purposes while State Parks continues to manage the camping, beach and recreation areas.

The terms of the partnership state that visitors to facilities managed by the PDA will not be required to purchase or display a Discover Pass.

The PDA still is committed to selling $250,000 in passes through its on-site facility.

“Those who come to the campus for PDA business don't need a Discover Pass, but if the goal is not met, the PDA will need to make up the difference,” said Park Manager Brian Hageman.

“So if you want to support the PDA after May 1, you should buy the pass on-site rather than from Wal-Mart or online,” he added.

A campaign for “general branding” is under development by Frause, a Seattle-based marketing organization, that will position the new facility as a gathering place for events large and small, according to board member Scott Wilson.

“Nothing is permanent, but the current direction is to characterize Port Townsend and Fort Worden as a gathering place where people come together to enjoy arts and culture,” said Wilson, who is also the editor and publisher of the Jefferson County & Port Townsend Leader, a weekly newspaper.

“This could be large events, such as Centrum, or smaller ones with families,” he added.

Wilson said the campaign, for which graphical images are now under development, would link Port Townsend and Fort Worden together, “at least for now.”

One uncertainty is how the transfer of operations will be commemorated: whether it will entail a large celebration at the time of transfer or wait “until we can get all the bugs out,” according to Robison.

The actual transfer date falls on a Thursday, so any event would best occur May 3, a Saturday, he said.

Such an event could feature music and entertainment, and most likely would include an open house where all of the partners can demonstrate their programs and facilities.

It also will provide an opportunity for locals to view the accommodations that will be renovated by that time, Robison said.

Seventeen applications had been received so far for the 10 advertised jobs, which include sales, finance, administrative and hospitality positions, said Michael Deighton, PDA manager.

Some people have indicated interest in more than one of the jobs, he said.

Interviews will begin in the next few weeks. The goal is to have all employees in place by April 20, Deighton said.

For more information or job details, visit www.fwpda.org.

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

Last modified: March 19. 2014 7:42PM
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