PORT TOWNSEND — Glamorous camping — or “glamping” as it’s called — is officially dead, or at least on life support at Fort Worden in Port Townsend.
During its Tuesday board meeting, the Fort Worden Public Development Authority (PDA) asked Director David Timmons to seek ways to surplus, sell or donate the tents and associated amenities in lieu of completing the project that began in 2018.
Said Timmons at the beginning of the glamping discussion: “It would seem to make more perfect sense for us to suspend any further activity and investment on that project.”
He added that securing the investment in the future — given the correct timing and a correct proposal — should be the main goal.
The PDA has spent $1.3 million on the glamping project, hoping originally in 2018 to have some high-quality camping tents in place for visitors to the Fort Worden campus by 2019. That never transpired, but hopes ran high as the project proceeded that 15 of the tents could be ready for campers by summer 2020.
Then COVID-19 hit and work came to a screeching halt.
To date — with empty tents unfinished and quickly aging on the Fort Worden campus — the PDA has borrowed $2.1 million for the project with $600,000 diverted to cover operating losses during the pandemic. The board was hoping to use that $600,000 to complete the full project, which originally was envisioned to accommodate 24 tents with some amenities comparable to typical motel rooms.
The $600,000, however, isn’t enough to complete the project, and borrowing more money is not a wise investment, Timmons said.
“What we recommend is utilizing the $600,000 to help us restructure our financial situation going forward,” Timmons explained.
Board members discussed a variety of possibilities for the tents and glamping supplies now in storage. A couple of options include trying to sell the tents and supplies, or donating them to be used as homeless shelters.
Timmons will consider the suggestions, determine the logistics involved with each option, and discuss his findings at a future PDA meeting.
Timmons suggested in a written statement accompanying the FWPDA meeting agenda that the board allocate no more than $100,000 “to secure the current investments to support future alternative proposals.”
The board agreed, voting to approve Timmons’ recommendations.
In other action during Tuesday night, the board:
• Approved a memorandum of understanding with Fort Worden Hospitality to adjust its concession fee from 3.5 percent to 3 percent for the initial five years of the contract.
• Voted to renew a contract with Dziedzic Public Affairs for ongoing lobbying services.
Paul Dunn can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at [email protected]