Viewpoint to be named for late Olympic Discovery Trail advocate

Project backers hope to open it next year

PORT TOWNSEND — The Peninsula Trails Coalition is hoping build a viewpoint in Discovery Bay named for late Hall Baetz, a former attorney and strong advocate for the Olympic Discovery Trail.

The future viewpoint will be located along a section of the shoreline that’s part of a larger restoration project, said Jeff Bohman, president of the coalition, and there’s an effort to extend sections of the Olympic Discovery Trail.

“A fellow by the name of Hall Baetz was very deeply involved in the project over a period of multiple years,” Bohman said. “The work that Hall was beginning to do is turning into really exciting progress on the ground.”

Baetz was an avid cyclist, Bohman said, and he had hoped to see an extension of the Olympic Discovery Trail along state Highway 20 from Four Corners Road to the existing portion of the trail on the west side of Discovery Bay.

Currently, cyclists following the trail must use a narrow portion of Highway 20, which has heavy traffic. The missing stretch is about 10 miles, Bohman said, but the coalition is “well on the way” to having the northern one-third of the gap filled in by Jefferson County and Washington State Parks.

When Baetz died in 2019, friends of his approached the coalition about finishing the project and naming something in his honor, Bohman said.

Baetz had been an attorney working mostly in the Seattle area but also in Washington, D.C., Bohman said, and the group that approached the coalition included, “a broad and influential circle of folks” who committed to raising funds for the project.

As work on the full connection continues, a viewpoint in Baetz’s name is to be built at roughly 31 Fairmount Road near where Highway 20 meets U.S. Highway 101 by Discovery Bay.

According to the land use permit application submitted to Jefferson County, “the Hall Baetz Viewpoint would serve as a public viewpoint of Discovery Bay and a natural/media interpretation area. In a larger context, the Hall Baetz Viewpoint may be designed to connect the existing Olympic Discovery Trail to a proposed trail expansion to the West.”

Proposed additions to the site include one viewing/memorial structure; one interpretive sign; one road approach; one parking lot with a capacity of 10 vehicles; one outhouse bathroom and a pedestrian circulation walkway, according to the application.

Bohman said the coalition has already approached relevant groups and agencies, including the Jamestown S’klallam Tribe and the state Department of Fish and Wildlife, and the plan has significant support from those interested groups.

The parcel where the viewpoint will be is currently owned by the Jefferson Land Trust, which is donating use of the land for the project, Executive Director Richard Tucker said.

Tucker told Peninsula Daily News the trust supports the project.

The land trust submitted an application for a land use permit on the coalition’s behalf in August and Bohman said he hopes to have the permit late this year or early 2023. At the rate the project is progressing, Bohman said he hopes to have the project completed by spring or early summer next year.

“When Hall got started on taking the lead in trying to identify how to achieve the entire ODT Eaglemount connection, he was about 78, and he felt as though it should be possible for him to be able to ride on the completed ODT Eaglemount for his 80th birthday,” Bohman said. “We explained that, ‘No, these things take longer than that.’”

Baetz would have turned 80 on Aug. 26, 2021. Bohman said the coalition hopes to have a ribbon cutting on Aug. 26, 2023.

“As an attorney, the fact that Hall Baetz had a viewpoint, that’s something that goes without saying,” Bohman said.

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Reporter Peter Segall can be reached at [email protected]

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