PORT TOWNSEND — The state Parks and Recreation Commission plans to submit a $10.4 million option to address environmental issues at Fort Worden State Park that include the pier, boat launch and the Port Townsend Marine Science Center.
The preliminary preferred alternative, which was presented to about 100 people Monday night at Fort Worden, will go to the state Office of Financial Management by June 30 for consideration before the state Legislature in future biennial capital budgets.
The plan incorporates a newly designed pedestrian pier, a relocated Marine Science Center on the upland side of Harbor Defense Way plus a new single-lane elevated boat launch.
Anna Spooner, a senior landscape architect from Anchor QEA of Seattle, presented the preferred option along with parks planner Michael Hankinson. They combined several features from three other alternatives as well as public comments from a similar public meeting in April.
Among them were concerns about the boat launch and whether or not the state should replace the current structure after it’s removed.
“We’ve heard from people concerned about an eyesore,” Hankinson said. “A boat launch that might be noisy, bring in more cars, boats, that sort of thing.”
The other side is that some people who visit state parks expect to find a boat launch, he added.
“What we’re trying to do is constantly get that balance,” Hankinson said. “This is an area that allows for boat launches. Our expectation is that, when you come to a state park with boating facilities, we accommodate for that, and we’re not accommodating for that very well right now.”
The boat launch would be float-supported and include six parking stalls adjacent to the area, Spooner said.
A floating breakwater would be located near the new pedestrian pier and the elevated boat launch, she added.
The structures need to be removed because they are nearing the end of their 50-year design life, Spooner said.
They also are limiting the natural flow of sand and eelgrass, she said.
“This beach is going to change a lot and potentially pretty fast once those inhibitors are gone,” Spooner said.
Two potential locations for a new Marine Science Center building are north of the current orca project exhibit or to the south of the Cablehouse Beach Canteen restaurant in the existing science center parking lot.
Janine Boire, the science center’s executive director, said the organization has momentum and a recent legacy gift of about $175,000 to fund the planning effort, but it doesn’t have a design yet.
The organization’s personnel have discussed a potential relocation for about five years, she said.
“We would like to be unified in one building, where we can tell our story,” Boire said.
“We are committed to not overbuilding but designing a facility we can operate sustainably for the very long term.”
Hankinson said the preliminary preferred alternative isn’t finalized. The state funded 1 percent of the project so planners could work on the concepts without specific design requirements.
“Your ideas tonight are essential,” he said. “You have to be really compelling in your reasoning for why you want something or you don’t want something.
“It’s about the merit of an idea. It is not a vote.”
Jefferson County Managing Editor Brian McLean can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 6, or at [email protected].