PORT TOWNSEND — Community members filled the Port of Port Townsend’s open house to learn about possible developments at Point Hudson that could affect the local marine trades and a number of businesses that rely on tourism from the historic marina.
The open house Thursday was the port’s effort to get feedback from the community on what it wants to see in Point Hudson and to look at possible partnerships with stakeholders, such as the Northwest Maritime Center, in an effort make Point Hudson financially sustainable with a $3 million jetty project already planned for this summer.
“I’m really glad they’re reaching out and getting partners,” said Port Townsend Mayor Deborah Stinson, who attended the open house. “Getting community input is really important.”
The port held the open house in the Marina Room at Point Hudson, and roughly 200 people cycled through the small space for more than two hours.
Port staff and commissioners were on hand to answer questions, and representative from Maul Foster & Alongi (MFA), an environmental engineering and consulting firm, were there to present possible development options for the marina.
The presentation was similar to one MFA representatives gave to the port commissioners at a meeting in September.
Options for development went from the least invasive, which would mean allowing Point Hudson to run as it currently is and attempt to make repairs as needed with limited funds, to more invasive plans that could include development of hospitality services around the marina, renovation and repairs to the existing buildings to bring in more maritime tradespeople and adding more walkable green spaces.
“There aren’t enough details to say ‘that’s the best idea,’ ” said Kris Nelson, owner of Sirens, Alchemy and the Old Whiskey Mill restaurants in downtown Port Townsend. “I accept their goals for the project, but there need to be so many more details, but tonight it seems like they’re asking broader questions.”
Much of the feedback from community members focused on keeping Point Hudson true to its maritime roots and Port Townsend’s small-town feel.
Three of the possible development plans from MFA would include changes to the current zoning and shoreline plans, which was an issue for some community members.
“We worked on those for years,” said Carol Hasse, owner of the Sail Loft in Point Hudson. “For me those are kind of non-starts.”
Aside from a number of maritime tradespeople, a number of other local business owners attended the open house.
“Everything they do here impacts downtown, so I’m very interested in this,” said Nelson.
“As a community we haven’t been great at working together, and this is a project that’ll force it to happen,” said Pete Langley of the Port Townsend Foundry.
As a maritime tradesman, Langley said he was in favor of attempting to bring in more businesses in order to maintain Point Hudson as a working marina.
“I’ve been here 37 years and it’s important for all the marine trades to be here, not just one entity,” Langley said.
However, while many community members seemed to have opinions on what should happen in Point Hudson, one of the more common complaints Thursday was about the open house itself.
“It’s too small of a venue, and if they’re surprised at the turnout, they shouldn’t be,” said Hasse. “Point Hudson is beloved and we don’t want it developed.”