Port Townsend City Council maintains Fort Worden State Park parking subsidy

PORT TOWNSEND — City Council members on Tuesday authorized a $20,000 subsidy to the state that will keep parking at Fort Worden State Park free this year.

Councilmen Geoff Masci and Frank Benskin opposed the subsidy, while the majority supported a motion to allocate $5,000 from the lodging tax reserve fund and $15,000 from the general fund.

The payment concludes the city’s two-year commitment to the state Parks and Recreation Department to offset the $5 parking fee collected at other state parks.

The city’s first 2005 installment of $10,000 was due Feb. 15 under an agreement signed between the city and the parks department.

Benskin said the agreement is not a legally binding document.

But Councilwoman Laurie Medlicott said although she does not agree with the previous council’s decision, she would commit to honoring the pledge.

Total of $125,000

The cash-strapped city last year paid the state parks department $60,000. The last installment, scheduled for Nov. 15, would raise the total to $125,000.

“It’s not an easy issue,” said Councilwoman Michelle Sandoval, adding that she decided to support the subsidy after considering all sides.

“One thing that helped me change my mind is that if our community can’t go [to Fort Worden] freely, it’s a significant concern,” she said.

Prior to voting, the council took public comment, during which one city resident urged council approval, but another asked that the dollars be spent elsewhere.

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