By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News
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PORT TOWNSEND — One month after taking over the management of the campus portion of Fort Worden State Park, the Lifelong Learning Center Public Development Authority will host a get-acquainted party.
“It's going to be a day all about rediscovering Fort Worden,” said Centrum spokeswoman Megan Claflin of the all-day open house beginning at 2 p.m. Saturday in the businesses and facilities at Fort Worden.
“It's about reminding people that this is a community space. It's their fort,” Claflin said.
“This is all about reinventing the space and inviting people to explore it.”
The open house will mark a partnership between the Washington State Parks system and the public development authority, or PDA.
On May 1, State Parks ceded management to the PDA, according to the terms of a 50-year lease signed Nov. 8.
The PDA is overseeing the campus portions of the 434-acre park for educational purposes while State Parks continues to manage the camping, beach and recreation areas.
The campus portion of the park includes the Centrum arts organization, the Port Townsend School of Woodworking, the Port Townsend Marine Science Center, Goddard College, Peninsula College and the Coast Artillery Museum.
The Fort Worden Lifelong Learning Center Public Development Authority had raised the more than $300,000 startup costs required in its lease agreement by January and has a $250,000 line of credit, Dave Robison, executive director of the PDA, has said.
A campuswide wireless Internet service is expected to be in place in June.
On Saturday, special events are planned throughout buildings in the park.
At 5 p.m., a ceremony will recognize the transformation of the Fort Worden Commons into a full-fledged hospitality center.
The day will be capped by Centrum season's opening performance of the Nanda acrobatics troupe at 7 p.m. in McCurdy Pavilion. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.
All of the events — aside from Nanda's performance and a 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. barbecue prepared by Bon Appetit — are free.
The upgraded hospitality center “is a game changer,” Robison said.
“All day, we will welcome people back to the fort,” he said.
“At 5 p.m., we will reopen the Commons so it becomes a hub for check-in” for the park's 450 beds “and will increase the level of hospitality service,” he added.
On Sunday morning, those who are using Fort Worden facilities will check in at the new center, which has the appearance of a hunting lodge's lobby minus the giant stuffed moose heads.
A new reservation system also will be in place.
The transition won't be complete until next season as the camping check-in will continue at the existing park office for the rest of the year.
All-day activities will include:
■ Kids Play Zone — Obstacle course, face painting, hula-hoops, juggling and parachutes
■ Birdhouse building workshop — Port Townsend School of Woodworking.
■ Music — 2 p.m. to 2:30 p.m., DJ Caleb Peacock; 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. and 5:15 p.m. to 6:15 p.m., world music performances by Lobos Del Mar; 4:30 p.m., a march with the Unexpected Brass Band.
Madrona MindBody Institute will offer free youth yoga from 2:15 p.m. to 2:45 p.m.
Tickets range from $15 to $40 for the Nanda performance Saturday night.
The show will celebrate the troupe's “Ten years of 'Acrobaticalism.'”
Tickets are available at www.centrum.org or by phoning 800-746-1982.
On Tuesday, Centrum Executive Director Rob Birman said ticket sales have been swift and he expects the show to sell out.
A Discover Pass, which is required to visit state parks, is no longer required for agencies and businesses in the campus portion of the park, although the PDA has committed to sell $250,000 worth of the passes each year.
Jefferson County Editor Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or firstname.lastname@example.org.