Port Townsend, Fort Worden PDA agree to identify areas of concern

Meeting documents, financial concerns among items

PORT TOWNSEND — The Port Townsend City Council unanimously agreed to a memorandum of agreement with the Fort Worden Public Development Authority and Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission to work with the Fort Worden PDA in identifying areas of mutual concern and establishing processes and determining outcomes, particularly those relating to fiscal responsibilities.

Council member Libby Urner Wennstrom, who serves as the council’s liaison with the Fort Worden PDA, said the city, the Fort Worden PDA and representatives from State Parks had been meeting regularly to work out the MOA.

“I think that might be a good way forward in terms of noting and addressing some issues that we see as areas where PDA needs help, improvement, et cetera, but also where there’s some strengths that can be drawn on,” Wennstrom said Monday.

More timely meetings of the PDA’s financial oversight committee has made her more comfortable in terms of the PDA’s ability to get back on track, she said.

“We’ve set a monthly cadence, but in the last two months, we’ve probably met four times,” Wennstrom said.

The city had asked the Fort Worden PDA in June to create a plan implementing procedures so it could get a handle on its financial reporting.

There is still a great deal of work to do, Fort Worden vice chair Celeste Tell told the council.

“But we believe the MOA provides a fair and appropriate framework for moving forward together,” Tell said.

The MOA outlines four action items for the PDA: provide meeting materials in advance; create monthly reports; increase the number of board members to nine; and create a written business plan that shows a path to financial sustainability.

The Fort Worden PDA board currently has six members, one of whom is leaving in October. Applications to fill five open positions are being accepted.

A description of board of directors duties can be found at tinyurl.com/bde435yn.

Those interested in serving on the Fort Worden PDA can fill out an application at tinyurl.com/jxmfh5yd.

The council also unanimously approved a resolution approving $400,000 for two water delivery point meters to monitor water usage by the Port Townsend Paper Corporation.

The cost of the project was originally estimated at $250,000 in 2021, but city staff on Monday requested a budget increase due to a narrow construction window, and escalating material and engineering costs for a project that turned out to be more complicated than had been anticipated.

“We can’t figure out a way to reduce the scope, and if we delayed it would probably cost more next year,” said Tyler Johnson, public works project manager. “The city’s water utility has ample reserves to cover that increased project cost.”

Installation of the meters was included in an agreement between the city and the mill in 2021. The meters will enable the city to accurately measure the mill’s water consumption and bill it appropriately.

“Failing to authorize this means we’d be in a very awkward position,” Mayor David Faber said. “Figuring out how much water the mill is using is a good thing.”

During the public comment period, four individuals spoke in favor of the Port Townsend Golf Course remaining a municipal course. The city council at its July 17 meeting sidestepped two plans submitted by a stakeholder group that would have kept elements of the course. Instead, it approved a proposal to develop its own plan that would essentially end its use as a golf course.

Christina Albrecht said the council’s actions had spurred a coalition of individuals who were seeking a constructive and collaborative approach to resolve what to do with the golf course, starting with efforts to establish a nonprofit to operate it.

“This isn’t a zero-sum game,” Albrecht said. “Neither ‘side’ has to ‘lose,’ for the other to ‘win.’ The golf course needs to change to better serve the community, which it can without any more financial drain on the city. Just give us a year.”

The council will hold a special meeting from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Monday for a site visit at Mountain View Commons and the Port Townsend Golf Course.


Reporter Paula Hunt can be reached at paula.hunt@soundpublishing.com.

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