PORT TOWNSEND — Concepts for the future of the Port Townsend Golf Course continue to be refined as the city looks for possible alternative uses for the 58-acre plot of land in the town’s center.
“We’re just finishing the concept alternatives phase,” said Chris Jones, principal with the landscape architecture firm Groundswell that was hired by the city to help develop the project.
“This is an iterative process; we are not done after Open House 2,” Jones said. “We are still getting your feedback.”
The city and Groundswell hosted the second of three open houses recently — an in-person open house at Fort Worden last Wednesday and an online event Monday afternoon — during which members of the public were able to give feedback directly to planners.
A third open house is currently set for June, with the in-person event scheduled for June 22 and the online event for June 26.
“We are hearing you loud and clear that there’s a lot of interest in really providing public access to the golf course site,” Jones said at Monday’s online open house.
“The biggest common denominator in all the feedback we’ve received is that people want to be able to walk and access the golf course site.”
According to the survey the city has posted to its website, 74 percent of respondents favor alternative or hybrid uses for the golf course. Out of a total of 1,091 responses, 470 said they preferred exploring alternative uses for the golf course; 344 said they preferred a hybrid option; 251 said they wanted the site to remain a golf course and 26 were undecided.
Planners currently have four options for the site they’re considering, Jones said, but are still refining each of them.
Jones said the goal of the public feedback process was to have one preferred option to present to the Port Townsend City Council for consideration.
The council will be briefed on the status of the alternatives at a meeting on June 5, Jones said.
The first alternative would preserve the golf course as is and invest in deferred maintenance and upgrades to the course. The second alternative would keep the golf course but reorient the footprint of the current course to accommodate other uses for the site such as trails and open areas.
A third option, what planners are calling Alternative 2A, would keep the golf course but only for another 10 years before converting the space for other uses.
The last option, what planners called a Central Park option, would close the course at the end of this year when the current lease is up, and convert the entire area to other uses such as playgrounds and civic amenities.
Jones said the topography of what is currently the driving range would make an ideal site for an outdoor amphitheater.
Walking and biking trails were a priority for respondents at both in-person and online events, Jones said, and all alternatives will preserve the Kai Tai Prairie in its current form.
Because the proposed revisions are considered a legacy project, meaning the changes are meant to last for many years, Jones said local high school students were also surveyed and their priorities were somewhat different from the general population.
The top priority for high school students was the addition of affordable housing, which came in ninth from the in-person and online surveys.
Part of the area under consideration is already zoned for residential housing, and a residential development could be added without impacting the current footprint of the golf course, Jones said.
The second priority for high school students was miniature golf, followed by walking and biking trails, which was the top priority for all other respondents.
The Mountain View Commons sits adjacent to the golf course, and the City of Port Townsend and Jefferson County are looking at possible alternative uses for that site as well. The two projects are not necessarily connected, but they could complement each other if that was the city’s desire, Jones said.
Funding for many of the amenities at the golf course would come from state grants from the Recreation and Conservation Office, Jones said, and the city would likely add various parts of the project in a piecemeal fashion over many years.
“This doesn’t open at Day 1 with all of these different elements,” Jones said.
Jones and city staff encouraged members of the public to provide as much feedback as possible via an online survey currently on the city’s website. That survey is open until 5 p.m. Friday, May 12.
“We want you to tell us what concept you’re gravitating towards, but tell us what you would change about it,” Jones said. “If you want to see more housing, we’re listening. We’re hearing you.”
The city council will receive another briefing on the status on the project at a meeting in mid-July.
More information about the project and a link to the online survey is available at the City of Port Townsend’s website, cityofpt.us/envision.
Reporter Peter Segall can be reached at email@example.com.