Art studios? Residential college? Crowd floats ideas for Fort Worden’s future

PORT TOWNSEND — Community leaders, park partners, arts advocates and local residents filled two rooms of the Commons Thursday night, generating enthusiasm and ideas that will determine the future of Fort Worden State Park.

“I’m so pleased in the response tonight, and the obvious interest in being in this conversation,” said Kate Burke, park manager.

The meeting, which attracted about 80 people, is the first step in drawing up a vision statement that will used to guide decisions during the next 10 years.

Held at the former Army post-turned-state park, the gathering started with everyone sitting in a big circle and talking about experiences they had at the fort, including close encounters with wildlife.

Then people were invited to come forward to write down ideas they wanted to see realized.

The call drew 17 takers, with several people suggesting the same idea — an arts center with studios or rooms for classes.

The old mule barn

One participant, Frank Vane, even had a place to put it — the old mule barn.

“I’m thinking of studios with local artists renting studio space and in the spring, having art sales out on the blacktop,” Vane said.

“It’s a great locale and a great building.”

Several people also raised the subject of preserving the natural environment.

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