PORT TOWNSEND — Some of the historic overnight accommodations operated by the Fort Worden Public Development Authority will reopen for new reservations Saturday.
Overnight stays were discontinued in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. People who had made reservations months ago were allowed to check in beginning last Friday, but no new reservations will be accepted until Saturday.
Although accommodations could have been reopened earlier, when Jefferson County moved into Phase 2 of Gov. Jay Inslee’s four-phase reopening plan, it was delayed to allow staff more time to train for and implement COVID-19 sanitation and cleaning protocols.
Those include cleaning and sanitizing surfaces, washing all bedding between stays, and alternating and limiting housing occupancy to allow added time between cleaning and new occupants, said Cody Griffith, PDA spokesperson, in a press release.
For instance, once a family leaves lodging, the facility will be left vacant for 24 to 36 hours before it’s cleaned, and then it will sit for another day before it’s reopened for reservations, said Dave Robison, PDA executive director.
That arrangement is to protect cleaning staff as well as visitors.
The accommodations available are Officers Row housing — rented out one side of each duplex at a time — NCO housing and smaller single-family cottages at about 50 percent capacity.
The PDA will not open the large group accommodations such as the dorms at this time, Robison said.
In addition to the overnight accommodations, the Cablehouse Canteen and Taps at the Guardhouse are opening for take-out and outside dining, and the front desk on Officers Row is opening out of a temporary new spot in House 15 at 15 Pershing Ave., Griffith said.
Other areas such as the Commons, large meeting rooms and venue spaces will remain temporarily closed, possibly until 2021, Robison said.
Information on the different accommodations can be found at fortworden.org, but reservations will be accepted only over the phone at 360-344-4400, ext. 304, Robison said.
The PDA had a soft opening of facilities on Tuesday.
“We really want to talk to each guest and inform them of our COVID-19 precautions that we’re taking,” he said.
The pandemic closure has been hard to manage for the PDA, Robison said.
“This has been a really challenging period, because we’ve had no revenue coming in, and we still had to keep a skeleton crew on-board to maintain the property and protect the buildings,” he said.
“Our team has really stepped up, wearing many different hats.
“The thing that is a relief is our ability to bring back some staff to begin working again,” he said. “That’s one of our primary drivers, to operate safely and continue to bring back staff who really want to come back.”
Face masks are required during all guest and staff member interactions, and any time guests and visitors are entering a building or outside near other guests/visitors when not social distancing.
“Glamping” tents that were scheduled to open in May have had construction halted until January, and Robison hopes they will be ready to open to the public at the start of the next camping season in April.
The lower campgrounds at Fort Worden State Park opened in late June and are run by the state, separately from the PDA.
Jefferson County reporter Zach Jablonski can be reached by email at [email protected] or by phone at 360-385-2335, ext. 5.