Survey responses favor alternative uses for Port Townsend golf course

Walking, biking trails among public requests

PORT TOWNSEND — Feedback from open houses and an online survey show strong support for considering alternative or mixed uses for the Port Townsend Golf Course, but public officials say a decision is far from being made.

Chris Jones — principal at Groundswell, the landscape architecture firm hired by the city — told the council Tuesday that 76 percent of respondents to an online survey supported alternative uses for the golf course or a mix of golf and other activities.

However, Jones noted that was based on the latest responses as of Monday, and said another 100 survey responses had come in since his presentation was put together.

The city is engaged in a months-long public feedback process and has asked residents for input on two projects; renovations to the Mountain View Commons facility and the future of the Port Townsend Golf Course. The two properties are adjacent, and city officials have said that, depending on public feedback, they could be combined.

That’s led to speculation that the city already has decided to remove the golf course in favor of the pool or other facilities, said Carrie Hite, director of Parks and Recreation Strategy, but she and other officials emphasized the public input process was still ongoing.

“There’s been a lot of information on the streets these days that says ‘the pool’s going to land on the golf course,’ and that has not been determined,” Hite said at the meeting.

The city had not yet determined the ideal location for a renovated pool facility, Hite said, a decision that was based on a number of factors such as zoning, topography and access to infrastructure.

“If it comes back that the golf course is the ideal site, then that’s when we’ll start that conversation with the golf course,” Hite said. “We need to go through the scrutiny of siting the facility.”

The city held its first open house on the two projects on Jan. 12 which was attended by at least 291 people, according to a presentation given to the Port Townsend City Council at its last meeting.

According to Jones’ presentation, support for the golf course was highest at the in-person open house, but that online survey respondents and attendees at an online open house leaned more toward alternative or hybrid uses for the 58 acres currently occupied by the golf course.

Asked to select priorities for the land, the golf course received the highest number of votes at the in-person open house, with 157, with walking and biking trails coming in second with 125 votes and habitat third with 117.

But when combined with the results of the online survey, a renovated golf course came in third as a community priority behind walking and biking trails and habitat restoration.

According to the presentation, walking and biking trails received the most votes with 346, followed by habitat restoration with 288 and a renovated golf course with 218.

Respondents also were asked about priorities for the Mountain View Commons, but their online and in-person responses were more unified in their support to maintain a public pool facility.

From both in-person and online responses, the pool was identified as the top priority for Mountain View Commons with 479 votes, followed by an education/community center with 274 votes, and a renovated playground with 252 votes.

In-person responses also favored the pool with 203 votes, followed by the playground with 114 votes and the education center with 100 votes.

For the golf course site, combined responses showed an education center, disc golf and picnic areas as the least prioritized.

For the Mountain View Commons, a farmers market, festival street and art projects were least voted for.

Jones acknowledged it was difficult to prevent people from taking the survey more than once and that he’s seen that happen with this project.

“I tend to think with the combined vote, it’s pretty close,” Jones happens. “It happens, it’s expected. I don’t think it’s swaying the numbers drastically.”

Mayor David Faber said he understood why golfers and others would be defensive about the proposed renovations but noted that the process grew out of previous public feedback and questions about the golf course’s financial stability.

“The point of this entire process is making sure that community value is being recognized and that we do whatever is the best option based on the greatest wisdom we can glean to make sure that the next 100 years of this facility is what the community actually values and wants to have there,” Faber said.

The next in-person open house is scheduled for April and will feature draft alternatives for the two projects, Jones said.

More information on the projects can be found at the City of Port Townsend’s website, cityofpt.us/envision.

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Reporter Peter Segall can be reached at peter.segall@peninsuladailynews.com.

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