State delays decision on Fort Worden future until Port Townsend meeting

By Jeff Chew
Peninsula Daily News

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Ex-Fort Worden manager in line for consultancy on learning center plans

PORT TOWNSEND — Kate Burke’s last day as manager of Fort Worden State Park was Friday.

But she is likely to stay on in Port Townsend as a consultant to the Fort Worden Lifelong Learning Center Public Development Authority.

The Port Townsend-based PDA board Friday agreed to put the wheels in motion to hire Burke as a consultant for a business plan.

A business plan is one element that State Parks and Recreation commissioners would like to see in place before they consider transferring ownership of Fort Worden to the PDA.

Burke lost the job she held since 2002 as manager of Fort Worden, Fort Townsend and the Rothschild House after she was displaced by a new manager, Allison Alderman, a 21-year State Parks employee.

Alderman “bumped” Burke because of her greater seniority after losing her job as region operations manager in the State Parks Northwest Region Office.

Dave Robison, PDA interim director, had said earlier that the PDA board would consider bringing Burke on board for her institutional knowledge.

He said Burke was instrumental in the eight-year process that led to establishment of the park as a lifelong learning center, which would provide outdoor space for recreational and educational opportunities and a variety of programs and classes.

Alderman will be on the payroll as manager of Fort Worden beginning Thursday, said Virginia Painter, State Parks spokeswoman on Friday.

But she may not be on-site that day because of a managers’ meeting in Olympia, Painter said.

Alderman is expected to have a meeting with park staff this week.
PORT TOWNSEND — State Parks and Recreation commissioners favor the lifelong learning center concept for Fort Worden but want more information before considering transferring the state park to a public development authority.

So said State Parks commissioners Friday when they addressed the Fort Worden Lifelong Learning Center Public Development Authority board during a special meeting at the state park near Port Townsend.

The commissioners Thursday delayed adoption of a resolution to begin transfer of Fort Worden State Park’s ownership and management from state parks to the PDA, which was created by the city of Port Townsend but which is legally separate from it.

Instead, a public hearing on the proposal to transfer ownership and management of Fort Worden to the public development authority, or PDA, and possible action is planned at the commission’s next meeting at 9 a.m. March 29 at Fort Worden State Park.

Before then, the Fort Worden Public Development Authority plans an open house at 7 p.m. Thursday at Fort Worden State Park Commons to share information about the proposal to transfer ownership and management of Fort Worden from the state parks system to the PDA.

Also, PDA representatives will address the noon Monday luncheon of the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce at the Elks Lodge, 555 Otto St., Port Townsend.

“Everybody on the commission wants to see the Lifelong Learning Center succeed,” said State Parks Commission Vice-chairman Roger Schmitt of Port Townsend on Friday.

Schmitt said, though, that commissioners felt like a “sword of Damocles” was hanging over their heads to make a decision before all seven commissioners, some of which are new to their posts, were educated on the matter.

“State Parks did not do a good job of bringing the commissioners up to date on this because they didn’t have enough time,” Schmitt, who has served three years on the commission, told the PDA board.

The Lifelong Learning Center concept is envisioned to provide indoor and outdoor space for a variety of recreational and educational opportunities.

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Sequim-Dungeness Valley Editor Jeff Chew can be reached at 360-681-2391 or at jeff.chew@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: February 11. 2012 6:22PM
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