Governor, conference set in Port Townsend next week

PORT TOWNSEND — Port Townsend will be in the spotlight next week as the governor holds a meeting at the Northwest Maritime Center and members from around the state gather for RevitalizeWA, a conference that focuses on historic preservation and economic development.

And, it’s OK that downtown Port Townsend is torn up now with improvement construction on Water Street.

Gov. Jay Inslee plans to meet Tuesday with state and local leaders to review data and discuss strategies to build and support more vibrant and inclusive communities. TVW will live-stream the event from the Northwest Maritime Center starting at noon.

Inslee will be joined by representatives of local and state agencies including the Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation, Washington State Arts Commission, Puget Sound Partnership, Department of Commerce, Department of Social and Health Services, Washington State Parks and the Fort Worden Public Development Authority.

In addition, close to 300 guests from across Washington state will attend the 8th Annual RevitalizeWA Historic Preservation and Main Street Conference running Monday through Wednesday.

The annual RevitalizeWA statewide conference is focused on historic preservation and economic revitalization, both of which are a match for this maritime city that is steeped in history, and which is preparing itself for the next 50 years of economic development through the Water Street Enhancement Project and the Rainier Street/Howard Street Extension Project.

Breanne Durham, conference coordinator, said Port Townsend was a great choice for this year’s gathering.

“The street work happening right now in downtown Port Townsend is actually one of the reasons we chose to host RetivalizeWA there,” Durham said.

“Main Street communities apply to host the conference and the Port Townsend Main Street Program made a very compelling case. Not only is the project itself something of a living laboratory, but bringing more than 300 people downtown allows us to positively contribute to the business community during construction which can be difficult on them. This is what Main Street is all about.”

Said Mari Mullen, executive director of Port Townsend Main Street Program: “The Port Townsend Main Street Program applied to host the Washington State Main Street Conference to help our local business be more sustainable during the construction.

”We are fortunate that they picked PT.

“We know that ‘Main Streeters’ understand that construction projects can be challenging times for businesses. We are grateful to the City of PT, First Federal, Aldrich’s Market and other generous business sponsors who stepped up to help bring this conference to our town,” Mullen siad. “The PT Main Street Program Board and partners like Centrum are donating their resources and time to make it a success.”

Downtown businesses have been suffering through the Water Street Enhancement Project, which is scheduled to be completed at the end of June. Residents and visitors have experienced one-lane traffic, sidewalk reconstruction, holes in the street, piles of dirt and other impediments.

Mullen said that in spite of the work, the weekends have been busy sales days, but weekdays have been slow for merchants and businesses.

Congressman Derek Kilmer of the 6th Congressional District — which includes the North Olympic Peninsula — is scheduled to help open the conference with Mayor Deborah Stinson and City Manager David Timmons.

Programs will be presented by local business, government and nonprofit leaders such as Melody Sky Eisler, director of the Port Townsend Public Library; Jake Bettie, executive director of the Northwest Maritime Center; and Gee Heckscher, Fort Worden Public Development Authority board member.

Along with other activities, tours are planned for Fort Worden State Park, uptown district historic homes and the National Historic tall ship, Adventuress.

Bill Tennent, Jefferson County Historical Society executive director, said the society will hold the Sin at Sea Leve tour, which provides a look back at the early days of the town focusing on architecture and its past colorful characters.

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Jefferson County Editor/reporter Jeannie McMacken can be reached at 360-385-2335 or at jmcmacken@peninsuladailynews.com.

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