PORT TOWNSEND — Point Hudson’s nearly century-old structures could receive some much-needed attention in the near future.
The Port of Port Townsend, which operates the 17-acre Point Hudson facility, has reached a two-year partnership agreement with the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation, a nonprofit organization recently designated as the entity responsible for implementing the Maritime Washington National Heritage Area.
The three port commissioners approved the agreement unanimously Wednesday night during a regular business meeting at the port commission building.
The agreement, which may lead to federal funding in the future, will be for both parties to conduct due diligence on historic information, find gaps and to determine how to restore and preserve Point Hudson, said Jim Pivarnik, the port’s executive director.
“This is really just the first step in a process, which, if successful, will take a number of years to get to the finish line on,” Deputy Director Eric Toews said.
“We’re really just outlining partnership principles in order to define the nature of the issues that we face and potential pathways forward to resolve them.”
Chris Moore, the executive director for the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation, said the Maritime Washington National Heritage Area encompasses nearly all of the state’s saltwater coastline with more than 3,000 miles total.
The partnership with the port is the organization’s first, he said.
“We first became aware of Point Hudson in 2005 or 2006, and even at that time there were concerns and questions about what was going to happen to those tremendous buildings down there,” Moore said.
“It did land on our most endangered buildings last at that time, and there has certainly been some talk or concern about them because there are buildings that represent the early quarantine era and subsequent eras to that.”
In a memo to the port commissioners last week, Pivarnik said staff members from the trust reached out to the port last fall, and the parties discussed the potential for a long-term lease for all or a portion of the property, and the trust would work to identify and secure funding for preservation efforts.
“Many of the historic structures and much of the infrastructure at Point Hudson dates to the mid-1930s and the construction of a Federal Maritime Quarantine Station,” Pivarnik said.
“These nearly 100-year-old structures are now in need of substantial reinvestment in order for Point Hudson to be preserved for the enjoyment of future generations.”
The current agreement doesn’t include a lease, although it says the trust wants to examine the feasibility of such an arrangement.
“Port Townsend really represents, in a lot of ways, the goals and themes that are wrapped up in the National Heritage Area,” Moore said.
The next step in the process it to develop a management plan, and Moore anticipated that would begin this summer and take between six and nine months.
“Once that’s in place, we’ll be off and running from an operational standpoint,” he said.
Moore added Point Hudson is a unique opportunity because of the “collection of resources and the activity already taking place.”
“There are no other projects right now that we have gone to this level of depth on,” he said.
“We would love to see it lay the foundation for other projects similar to that in other places, but Point Hudson is the only one we’re looking into entering an agreement of this breadth at the moment.”
Moore said his 25-member board of directors, including former Port Townsend City Manager David Timmons, already has approved the deal.
Toews said if the organizations can identify potential issues and how to resolve them, then a more-defined second phase will “drill down deeper” into the details.
“I don’t think we could have found another entity that was in a better position to help us with the preservation of one of the treasures of the Pacific Northwest coast,” he said. “We can use their expertise to help us leverage outside resources to see where we can find a pathway forward to the rehabilitation and preservation of Point Hudson for future generations.”
Jefferson County Managing Editor Brian McLean can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 6, or at [email protected].