Stages outlined for Fort Worden reopening

PORT TOWNSEND — It’s “almost like wrestling an octopus,” said Fort Worden Public Development Authority’s strategic adviser as he described the process of creating a reopening strategy while battling an ocean of uncertainty.

David Timmons outlined a five-stage process to guide movement toward eventually resuming full operations during a PDA board meeting Wednesday. Port Townsend’s former city manager is advising the quasi-public agency as it navigates the coronavirus epidemic through June 30.

He and PDA Executive Director Dave Robison walked board members and the public through the stages, which were developed to meet three goals: ensuring the Fort Worden campus survives the immediate financial crisis; develop a recovery strategy to reopen PDA operations; and reassess the business model to address COVID-19 mandates.

Response Stage 1: Jan. 1 to March 31 — Identify recoverable costs for work the PDA performed before activities at were fully suspended. The expenses must be in response to the emergency and not otherwise budgeted. PDA staff will review all documentation in support of a request for federal assistance.

PreRecovery Stage 2: April 1 to June 30 — Report the financial status of the PDA and viability to move ahead with the remaining stages.

A restoration of operations analysis needs to be conducted concerning recommendations for services to reopen all or in part beginning July 1.

Recovery Stage 3: July 1 to Dec. 31 — Timmons described Stage 3 as “the heart to bringing the fort back online.” A reopening team will be assembled to develop the strategies for reopening programs and services.

An assessment of future needs also is planned to make the Fort Worden campus more resilient and prepared for future emergency situations.

The PDA hopes the approach meets qualifying standards for federal emergency relief.

Restoration of Operations Stage 4: July 1 to March 31, 2021 — Continue to explore restoring operations that will be influenced by recovery measures. This relates to planning and preparation to bringing back hospitality services (lodging/food), capital activities, partner support and property maintenance.

“We know we will not have fully mitigated items in place for a full reopening,” Timmons said.

Robison said the PDA will spend the next few months focusing on whether an initial reopening can be held later this summer.

“That means sourcing the (personal protective equipment) and other supplies, putting protocols in place for housekeeping, developing campus-wide safe-distancing guidelines, (and determining) restaurant service, and if we can make it safe for our employees and guests. As we move into the fall, we begin looking longer-term.”

Reopen Stage 5: April 1, 2021 — Reaching the goal of a reopened, resilient campus filled with activities free of economic threats and COVID-19-like exposures.

Elements of operations could return sooner if circumstances allow and run concurrently with implementation of recovery measures.

April 1, 2021, is a “no later than” goal to resume “normal” operations based on new-normal standards and recovery measures completed.

The board also heard updates on the PDA’s Makers Square project.

Construction is expected to resume sometime in June as the historic buildings 305, 308 and 324 are repurposed to provide 25,000 square feet of new space to support arts, culture and education programming.

At the same time, the buildings will get a seismic retrofit and an upgrade of utility, sewer, water and electrical services.

Robison also discussed the resumption of camping and glamping activities at the park.

“Our (Jefferson County) Board of Health tied us to Clallam (County) for reopening camping (in Jefferson County’s approved Phase 2 application),” he said. “If we are still linked to the Clallam County recommendation, camping would not be allowed until all of the state is in Phase 2.”

“That really affects our operations,” Robison said. “And sit-down restaurant service won’t be allowed (in Jefferson County) until Kitsap and Clallam counties enter Phase 2.

“It’s important as we consider our recovery plan to stay current with rules coming down from (Gov. Jay) Inslee and the Board of Health.”

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Sports reporter Michael Carman can be contacted at 360-406-0674 or [email protected].

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