PORT TOWNSEND — Red and yellow leaves littered the ground as members of the Jefferson County Parks and Recreation Advisory Board walked the trails of several parks in the county.
On Wednesday morning into the early afternoon, members of the advisory board and county parks staff members toured county parks during the board members’ annual parks tour.
The tour took the group of seven people — board members Malloree Weinheimer, Vern Bessey, Marianne Walters, Tim Rensemema and Roger Hall and well as staff members Matt Tyler, Jefferson County Parks and Recreation manager, and Libby Masaracchia of Jefferson County Public Works — to the Chimacum Park, Camp Beausite NW, Silent Alder Loop Trail of Gibbs Lake Park, a meeting with Finnriver Farm, Irondale Beach Park and Irondale Community Park.
“The whole point of this is to draw people out here and make sure they’re safe and sound all year-round,” Tyler said.
“It’s a way of gathering experience firsthand. That information may be used for procedure and policy.”
The group met at the Chimacum Park before carpooling to Camp Beausite NW, where the property is owned by the county but is leased to Camp Beausite NW, which is a nonprofit that runs adaptive camp sessions for people with special needs.
Raina Baker, Camp Beausite executive director — who has been with the camp since June — walked the group through the facilities.
Once the camp was run by the Kiwanis Club. That ended in 2011. The camp now operates as a separate entity, although Kiwanis Club members sit on the camp’s board.
Since being renovated after receiving a large anonymous donation six years ago, the camp has the capacity to comfortably accommodate 56 people and is now available for groups to rent during the times it is not operating a program, Baker said.
Throughout the tour, board members asked about what they can do for the camp. Common answers were better signage to keep public away from the camp (as it’s open to those who reserve it only) and possible road/trail modifications.
The signage is important, because along the same road is a public entrance to the Silent Alder Loop Trail.
As the board members walked through the parks, they constantly shifted conversations from admiring the area to what they can do to improve it, complimenting work that has been done and brainstorming ideas on how to improve it.
Several trails within Jefferson County have been created through a collaboration of the Parks and Recreation department, the Quimper Trail Association and Back Country Horsemen.
The three groups have helped to construct trails that accommodate hikers, bikers and horseback riders, Tyler said.
The group also met with Finnriver Farm & Cidery co-founders Crystie Kisler and Eric Jorgensen to discuss the community in Chimacum and possible improvements to Chimacum Park at 9635 Rhody Drive.
Chimacum Park used to be a campground but it has not been operated as such since the Great Recession of 2008, Tyler said.
One of the ideas for the park is to reopen it as a campground, but before doing that the Parks and Recreation team is reaching out to community members to gauge support among the Chimacum businesses.
Kisler supported the idea, saying it would be an asset for the community since the closest campgrounds now are about 10 miles away.
“It’s super exciting seeing it possibly coming back to life,” Kisler said. “I can’t specifically imagine anyone who would object.
“I’m super excited about the campground, so let me know however I can help.”
Nothing has been set in stone regarding the possibility of the campground reopening, but a general consensus was if it were to happen, involving the Chimacum community businesses and possibly the Chimacum School District would be a major factor.
The Parks and Recreation Advisory Board plan to discuss ideas for Chimacum Park at its Dec. 4 meeting, which will begin at 11 a.m. in the main conference room of the Jefferson County Public Works Office at 623 Sheridan St., Port Townsend.
Jefferson County reporter Zach Jablonski can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 5, or at [email protected].