Community split in golf stakeholder meeting

Architecture firm leads group, discusses paths for public engagement

PORT TOWNSEND — Developing a path forward to engage the Port Townsend community, provide timely and easily accessible information and balance competing community interests highlighted discussion at the Envision Port Townsend Golf Course stakeholders meeting.

Chris Jones of Groundswell Landscape Architecture in Seattle led Tuesday’s meeting, which was held in council chambers at the historic City Hall, 540 Water St., and online.

Jones presented a summary from the public launch of the project on Oct. 25 at Mountain View Commons and at the golf course that drew a combined 107 people and elicited 95 comments — more than had been anticipated on both counts.

“We got a lot of great feedback,” Jones said. “I don’t think that you’ll be astonished by many of them. First and foremost, your community is divided about the golf course.”

Some people wanted to keep the golf course as is, while others were more interested in building pickleball courts. Or, maintain the golf course but add paths for walking and cycling.

That a number of commenters believed the golf course would be turned into public housing echoed concerns the planning team had heard, as well as suggested that one of the challenges moving forward would be to get ahead of misinformation about the project.

“We’ve not been directed to plan for housing by the city,” Jones said. “I think there’s a preconceived notion that there’s a cooked plan. Part of what we’re doing here today is to dispel myths that came out of the launch and to share information with you and your colleagues.”

Director of parks and recreation strategy Carrie Hite said she had been meeting individuals and community members to try to get as much wide-ranging input as possible on the future of the site.

Among the individuals and groups with whom Hite said she has met were homeowners living adjacent to the course, Colinwood Farms, Fort Worden Public Development Authority, golfers, the Port Townsend Food Bank and the Port Townsend Preservation Alliance.

Stakeholders also recommended she reach out to churches, The Chamber of Jefferson County and service groups such as Rotary.

The public will have an opportunity to meet stakeholders, the design team and city staff at an open house scheduled for Wednesday, Jan. 11. A formal presentation, visual boards and a question-and-answer period are planned.

The site for the event has not yet been decided.

A stakeholder suggested that providing the public with details about the project before the open house, rather than introducing them at the event, might be useful.

“I think there is plenty of information we can share in advance on the website,” Jones said in agreement. “If people could digest it ahead of time, then I think we could get more useful feedback.”

The next stakeholder meeting, open to the public, will be from 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. Dec. 20 in council chambers as well as online.

Information and documents relating to the Envision Port Townsend Golf Course can be found on the city’s website, tinyurl.com/3htsy6sw.

Comments from the public on the Envision Port Townsend Golf Course can be found at tinyurl.com/zvjzksem.

The Port Townsend City Council contracted with Groundswell to assist with planning and public outreach to decide on the future of the golf course.

The city has said the nine-hole course is in need of substantial upgrades to remain viable.

The area under consideration consists of the golf course, including its parking lot, pathways and trails, as well as a 1.4-acre section known as the Kah Tai Prairie.

The goal is to have a recommendation ready to present to the council next spring.

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Reporter Paula Hunt can be reached at paula.hunt@soundpublishing.com.

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