Commissioners ready 40-year lease for Caswell-Brown Village

Document signing Friday as OlyCAP seeks grant

PORT TOWNSEND — Jefferson County Commissioners directed county staff to finalize a 42-year lease agreement with Olympic Community Action Programs to manage the Caswell-Brown Village, a homeless housing project which began as an encampment.

The lease will be signed at a special meeting Friday.

Commissioners reviewed the terms of the lease during their meeting Monday and instructed county staff to finalize the document but didn’t approve for the agreement to be signed.

Under the terms of the lease, the county will rent the property at the intersection of state Highway 20 and Mill Road for $10 a year, with a $1 late fee.

OlyCAP has requested the document be sent over as soon as possible as the organization finalizes its grant application process.

The terms of the lease were not likely to change much during the finalization process. Commissioners reasoned that personally approving the agreement would be an important symbolic gesture.

“It is nice when the electeds sign something like this,” said Commissioner Kate Dean. “I prefer to have us sign it.”

Commissioners agreed to sign the lease at a special meeting at 9 a.m. Friday, when public comment can be taken.

OlyCAP — which has run the site since 2021 — is seeking a grant from the state Department of Commerce to upgrade and expand the site and must have its paperwork submitted by midnight Sept. 12, said Jefferson County Chief Civil Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Philip Hunsucker.

“Forty years is a requirement to obtain the lease from Commerce,” Hunsucker said.

OlyCAP is seeking a DOC Housing Trust Fund grant to build an emergency shelter with permanent supportive housing attached, according to Housing and Community Development Director Kathy Morgan.

“It’s going to be a large building. Half will be supported units and the other half will be emergency shelter,” Morgan said.

Morgan said OlyCAP is working with an architect on the project and could not say how much the organization would be requesting in its grant application. Securing access to the property is a requirement of the application, Morgan said, and once granted, funds must be used to serve a specific population.

“For the Housing Trust Fund to give us money, the property has to be retained for the purpose,” Morgan said. “It has to serve the homeless; it has to serve the population that we got the funding for.”

OlyCAP is asking for the lease to be signed by the end of August, Hunsucker said, but the commissioners’ next regular meeting won’t be until Sept. 6, a week before the grant application deadline. As of Monday, OlyCAP’s consultants had not completed the review of the draft lease agreement, Hunsucker said.

Commissioners looked at provisions within the lease ensuring public access to the Larry Scott Trail and the need for additional public parking.

The county purchased the site for $600,000 in 2021 as an emergency response to a homeless encampment at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds.

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Reporter Peter Segall can be reached at psegall@soundpublishing.com.

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