PORT TOWNSEND — Port Townsend residents got a chance to view design concepts developed by a stakeholder group for the Sims Gateway and Boat Yard Expansion Project at an open house.
The project presented Saturday is a collaboration between the City of Port Townsend, the Jefferson County Public Utility District and the Port of Port Townsend, and it has sparked an organized effort to fight the possible removal of about 150 Lombardy poplars.
A decision on the final design for the project could happen on Sept. 12, when the Port Townsend City Council, the PUD and port commissioners meet to possibly vote on a recommendation from the Parks, Recreation, Trees and Trails Advisory Board.
The Parks, Recreation, Trees and Trails Advisory Board will meet Aug. 23 at 4:30 p.m. at City Hall to discuss and vote on the design concepts developed by the stakeholder group
Representatives from the city, port, PUD, the stakeholder group and SCJ Alliance and MacLeod Reckord, which provided design services for the project, were on hand at Saturday’s open house to answer questions and explain the different concepts illustrated on presentation boards displayed around a room at the Port Townsend Community Center at 620 Tyler St.
People were encouraged to give their feedback with Sharpies on large, white easel pads which quickly filled up with comments that often resembled hand-written Twitter feeds alternately agreeing or disagreeing with previous writers.
The project is part of the city’s Gateway Development Plan dating back to 1993.
The plan set out to define priorities, design guidelines and make recommendations for growth and development of the Sims Way poplar-lined corridor.
The project calls for removal of the poplars so the port can expand the size of the boat yard on its northern border, and because they are a safety hazard to PUD powerlines overhead, according to authorities.
The stakeholders developed a number of alternatives for the project that ranged from no poplars removed to most of them removed.
Teri Mielke, who has lived in Port Townsend since 1973, said after speaking with Steve King, the city public works director, he felt much better about the project and was inclined to approve of it.
“My major concern was the sequence of what they were doing,” Mielke said. “I feel better that they’re not taking all the trees out at once because I enjoy those trees. I also understand wanting to protect the power lines.”
Adrianne Harun said she thought the city, PUD and port did not do a good job in involving the public in the development process and that the plan to remove the poplars took people by surprise when they learned about it last fall.
“They made a decision and it needs more engagement with the community,” said Harun, who has live in Port Townsend for 41 years.
“I’m not absolutely against it, but why are they doing this now? Potholes and housing should be the city’s priorities.”
The project stakeholders will review and consider feedback from the open house and then forward their preference to Parks Advisory Board, which will in turn make its recommendation for the Sept. 12 meeting.
For information about the Sims Gateway and Boat Yard Expansion Project and images of the design concepts, go to https://tinyurl.com/c7mds2sr.
Reporter Paula Hunt can be reached by email at [email protected]