Fort Worden public development plan draft sent to Gov. Gregoire

By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News

PORT TOWNSEND — A draft of the Fort Worden Lifelong Learning Center Public Development Authority’s business plan has been submitted to Gov. Chris Gregoire’s office for final vetting.

The referral of the plan Friday is in preparation for the submission of the final draft to the state Parks and Recreation Commission on Oct. 25 in time for the commission’s Dec. 6 meeting, when it could be approved.

“There is a lot of work we need to do before the commission decides to enter into a co-management agreement with us,” said PDA Executive Director Dave Robison.

“There are a lot of detailed questions we need to answer, and the more we do this, a better chance we have of success, although it all boils down to the startup money needed and a definition of roles and responsibilities as to who does what.”

After several months of discussions and public meetings, the PDA began the development of the business plan in June, with the purpose of managing the educational portion of Fort Worden State Park while standard park operations such as camping and hiking remain under the State Parks umbrella.

PDA officials presented the proposal to the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce on Oct. 1 and have scheduled a meeting at
6 p.m. Monday at the Jefferson County Library, 620 Cedar Ave. in Port Hadlock.

In a letter to Fred Olson, Gregoire’s deputy chief of staff, PDA board President Cindy Hill Finnie said the PDA is committed to raising $550,000 “to support the transition of a working partnership” but that some seed money from the State Parks system will be needed to get the partnership started.

“Money is the biggest issue,” said PDA board member Gee Heckscher.

“We plan to take over many operations that will benefit the Park Service, but we will need funds to begin this operation.”

The draft plan contains no request for funds, but board members said they plan to ask for seed money — at an amount to be determined — in future negotiations.

The State Parks system’s potential contribution will depend on funding by the state Legislature, with the possibility that funding could be cut to zero, State Parks officials have said.

According to the plan, the 434-acre Fort Worden State Park draws more than 1 million visitors to the area each year and generates more than $11,600,000 in local and state revenues, not including the direct revenues of the park.

The PDA is proposing to take on all reservation services for accommodations, meeting rooms and campgrounds.

That was suggested by businesses and agencies involved in Fort Worden to help coordinate programs and hospitality services for all visitors to the park.

The plan also proposes that the PDA manage the 16 tenant agreements in the state park.

That also was suggested by the tenants, who said it would take a load off the State Parks system since it could deal directly with the PDA instead of with individual businesses and agencies.

Under the plan, the State Parks system would manage the campgrounds; serve as steward of natural, historic and cultural resources; oversee facility and infrastructure repair and maintenance; provide public access to beaches, trails and historic monuments; and provide law enforcement for the entire park.

The PDA and State Parks would develop a management agreement and/or a capital facilities plan that would include an inventory of buildings and their condition, and a clear understanding that facilities would be maintained to a specified condition, with clear roles by each party.

For more information, visit www.fwpda.org.

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

Last modified: October 14. 2012 6:47PM
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