Meeting on Port Townsend’s future goes SRO

PORT TOWNSEND — So many people showed up to Port Townsend’s town meeting last week that an overflow area was set up in the hallway of the Fort Worden State Park Commons.

Mayor Michelle Sandoval said that a larger room would be scheduled for the next meeting on April 17.

Organizers are estimating that somewhere between 250 and 300 people were in attendance Thursday to share what they believe makes the community a special place.

The standing room-only crowd split into groups of from 10 to 25 people to decide on their recommendations of the ideals the town should work toward.

The meeting allowed community members to not only share their thoughts with each other, but also to vote electronically on key issues facing the community.

“It gave us quick feedback and everyone got a say,” Sandoval said.

Especially emphasized was a need to address a lack of affordability — both in terms of jobs and of housing — sustainability of natural resources and a desire to work with the “green movement.”

“Tonight you answered the question of what makes this town special,” said City Planning Director Rick Sepler on Thursday night as he addressed the crowd.

“What you just did, to come here tonight, to share what you think, to disagree with your neighbors.

“That is what makes this town special.”

Despite the shortage of tables and chairs, Sandoval said the meeting was well-received.

“I heard several times from different people that they felt this was truly democracy in action,” Sandoval said.

The list of ideals which were on the original community plan all remained on the list, Sandoval said.

“It was an affirmation that our values originally in the plan are still significant,” Sandoval said.

Among those key concerns are:

  • Maintaining a small town atmosphere.

  • Safety and security.

  • Maintaining special places.

  • An accessible waterfront.

  • A walkable town.

  • Access to government.

  • Natural beauty.

  • Arts and culture.

  • Diversity.

  • Historical legacy.

  • Commitment to community.

    City officials plan to have more voting machines for the next meeting to speed up the process, and they are encouraging more people to attend.

    The April 17 meeting will focus on how the town can pay for the values discussed at the first meeting.

    “We will be talking about how to put our money where are values are,” Sandoval said.

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