Five capital projects proposed for Fort Worden campus

Emergency generator made a priority after large-scale power outage last month

PORT TOWNSEND — Recent power outages at the Fort Worden campus prompted the Fort Worden Public Development Authority’s Coordinating Committee to add the purchase of an emergency generator to its list of five capital projects proposed to Washington State Parks for capital project funding.

The Fort Worden Operations works group presented five capital projects for approval by the coordinating committee on Dec. 6. The panel is to present the projects to Washington State Parks for review and potential funding.

A lease agreement with Washington State Parks that was signed in 2013 set up the structure for the public development authority’s management of the campus portions of the 434-acre park — about one-fourth of the park and including most of the buildings — while State Parks continues to manage the camping, beach and recreation areas.

The operations workgroup has presented these projects in the past; at this meeting, the projects’ priority ranking were changed.

Still at the top of the list is the campus-wide replacement of the fire alarm system, which is outdated and failing, panel members said.

“We kept this as the top priority and have been working around the clock this week on issues related to this system,” said Aislinn Palmer, interim operations director.

That project is estimated to cost a maximum of $2.5 million.

Moved up in priority was the burying of powerlines across the Fort Worden campus. That includes the purchase of an emergency generator.

“This project was previously focused on the overhead electrical lines and a continuation of that project and then had as a sort of afterthought consideration of emergency generator capabilities,” Palmer said.

November’s massive power outage made it clear that the generator should be a higher priority, Palmer said.

The Jefferson County Public Utility District reported more than 11,000 without power at the peak of the Nov. 15 storm — “one of the biggest outage incidents we’ve had in years,” the PUD reported on its Twitter feed.

“It was a stark reminder of how vulnerable the power is here and what a big deal that is to everyone on campus when the power is out … It really just brought to light that a generator should be a high priority for this property,” Palmer said last week.

The estimated cost for the project is $1.5 million. The operations workgroup is seeking bids on the generator so the cost could increase.

The third project focuses on Building 298 on the Fort Worden campus.

Repairs are needed to the exterior of the building, specifically to the multi-level porches that wrap around the east and south sides of the building, Palmer said.

Leaks in the porches have led to water damage on the interior of the building.

The cost of the repairs is about $2 million, including assessments and designs for future renovations of the building.

The fourth project focuses on making the Fort Worden campus more accessible under Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) guidelines by upgrading existing facilities.

“We all believe very strongly that ADA and other safety upgrades are needed at the campus,” Palmer said.

This project is estimated to cost $2.5 million.

“Some of our buildings might have ADA from the outside, but once you get inside the buildings are not ADA accessible, so that’s a little awkward; yes, you can get in but suddenly the building isn’t functional,” said Brian Hageman, Fort Worden Park manager.

Hageman noted that consideration may be given toward ramp usage rather than elevators.

“For example, the park ranger office and the administrative building,” Hageman said. “The lifts outside are not functioning and what we are finding it that elevators are very expensive and they require annual (Labor and Industries) inspections and maintenance, so we are kind of hoping to look at other ideas like ramps.”

The final proposed capital project is a multi-phased one addressing exterior design and construction improvements to buildings on Officers Row and World War II-era residences on the campus.

This project will cost an estimated $10.6 million. The PDA has asked for $2.6 million in funding from Washington State Parks.

“This work is moving very slowly and these are very big projects which makes them a high priority since this is one of the signature areas of the park and one of the highest attractions,” Palmer said.

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Reporter Ken Park can be reached at kpark@peninsuladailynews.com.

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