Open space, park top alternatives for golf course, survey finds

City staff to vet 3 proposals, present to council Nov. 2

PORT TOWNSEND — Most of the 830 people surveyed about possible alternative uses, other than golf, for Port Townsend’s nine-hole golf course want to see the nearly 60 acres of land preserved as open space or developed as a park with trails, according to an analysis of responses.

Alex Wisniewski, the city’s director of parks, recreation and community services, reviewed the results of an open-ended survey and other public outreach with the City Council on Monday during a workshop meeting.

At the same time, city staff are preparing for interviews next week with those behind three proposals to take over operation of the 136-year-old golf course when the current lease expires at the end of this year. None of those making the proposals were identified.

“Moving down both paths simultaneously has certainly been challenging,” Wisniewski said in response to a question from Port Townsend resident Aleta Greenway, who asked what the point of the survey was if the city is entertaining proposals to continue golf operations.

“The intention is to marry these two sets of information together so the city can make a more holistic decision on how to move forward,” he said.

Wisniewski said he plans to return to the council Nov. 2 “to bring forth the results from the full evaluation of the RFPs and likely some proposed paths forward for how we may chip this putt in.”

That request for proposals (RFP), which was open from Aug. 14 to Sept. 30, sought business plans that would account for some $1.2 million needed to repair facilities and the course’s irrigation system, which were described in a National Golf Foundation analysis conducted in 2018 and which the City Council concluded it could not afford.

And while the RFP sought proposals specifically for golf operations, it left open the possibility of incorporating other uses to achieve a financially viable business plan, considering the current operator’s declining revenues over the past five years.

Survey respondents often described a mix of alternative uses for the property, as well, Wisniewski said, particularly when asked about housing, the third most popular alternative.

“We did receive a lot of responses that provided multiple answers,” he said. For example, “utilize some of the property for housing while retaining some of it for open space and other uses.”

The survey asked open-ended questions about alternatives to golf based on five community goals pulled from the city’s comprehensive plan, strategic plan, and its parks, recreation and open space (PROS) plan.

“We wanted to make sure we weren’t leading the conversation by providing multiple-choice questions with predetermined, end-result outcomes,” Wisniewski said. “We wanted to offer the community the opportunity to share their ideas unfettered.”

The PROS plan, which was adopted in March, was informed by a survey of 927 residents. Some 75 percent of those respondents said they never use the golf course. The new survey, conducted in September, had 60 percent say they never use the course.

In the latest survey, respondents who wanted to see the property used as a park overwhelmingly called for trails, as was also the case in the earlier PROS plan survey.

However, respondents also suggested other amenities, such as a playground, picnic area, space for outdoor events, disc golf, pickleball courts and other sports fields.

Asked about housing, respondents were split, with a roughly equal number saying it would be a good use of the land as those explicitly denouncing it.

Those who wanted housing overwhelmingly called for affordable housing, followed by apartments and tiny homes.

“Some responded, ‘No housing here; keep it a golf course,’ ” Wisniewski said. “Some of these did not give that much information, they just said, ‘Don’t use this property for housing; don’t build housing.’ It was that sharp and pointed.”

The question of whether to develop the land for business opportunities received a similar response, with many supporting business development but a significant amount denouncing the idea altogether.

Survey responses included quite a bit of repetition, said Wisniewski, who, along with fellow staff, “read every single open-ended response that was received and tried to tabulate them.”

Without details on the three proposals to continue golf operations, the council deferred discussion of potential alternative uses until its Nov. 2 meeting.

“We’re trying to make sure we have the full menu in front of us,” said Deputy Mayor David Faber.


Jefferson County senior reporter Nicholas Johnson can be reached by phone at 360-417-3509 or by email at [email protected].

More in News

COVID death youngest on Peninsula

Clallam man in his 50s

Peninsula COVID-19 cases, infection rates reported

Sunday’s toll: 12 more in Clallam, none in Jefferson

During She Tells Sea Tales on Saturday, Joyce Gustafson of Port Townsend will offer the story of events that set the course for her life. (Diane Urbani de la Paz/Peninsula Daily News)
She Tells Sea Tales brings adventure online

Sailors applaud women choosing unusual directions

Geoduck harvesting area shut down after diver’s death

Port Angeles man, 35, dies after air tube apparently entangled in debris

FILE - In this Jan. 18, 2014, file photo, endangered orcas from the J pod swim in Puget Sound west of Seattle, as seen from a federal research vessel that has been tracking the whales. A new study from federal researchers provides the most detailed look yet at what the Pacific Northwest's endangered orcas eat. Scientists with the NOAA Fisheries Northwest Fisheries Science Center spent years collecting fecal samples from the whales as well as scales from the fish they devoured. They say their data reaffirm the central importance of Chinook salmon to the whales. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)
Study: Chinook salmon are key to Northwest orcas all year

Data confirm central importance of the largest of the species

A webcam shot at Hurricane Ridge shows deep snow Thursday morning.
Olympic Mountains’ snowpack well-fed

Storms leave region in good shape for summer

A boat sits moored next to several boathouses at Port Angeles Boat Haven on Thursday. Port of Port Angeles commissioners are suggesting replacing boat houses with floating homes. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)
Port of Port Angeles suggests floating homes

Agency sends letter to council asking to remove ban

Skipper Jared Minard, left, and Ella Ventura, boatswain, accept the Hiltner Trophy for Sea Scout Ship Marvin Shields. The Chief Seattle Council named the Sea Scout Ship Marvin Shields, ship 1212, as its fleet flagship during a recent award ceremony. The selection as flagship allows the Marvin Shields to retain the traveling Hiltner Trophy and fly the flagship pennant at its masthead for the second year. The Sea Scouts is a program for youth ages 14-20. For more information, visit
Sea Scout Ship Marvin Shields named fleet flagship

The Chief Seattle Council named the Sea Scout Ship Marvin Shields, ship… Continue reading

Sinclair Place resident Martin Arnold cuts the ribbon to mark the start of the the senior living facility’s Freedom Ceremony. 

The ceremony marks the fact that 100 percent of the residents have been vaccinated which allows the facility to ease rules regarding movement out into the community. 

Pictured on the left is Victorya Rivera, community relations manager at Sinclair Place.
Ribbon cutting marks 100 percent vaccination for facility

Sinclair Place resident Martin Arnold cuts the ribbon to mark the start… Continue reading

Most Read