State Parks may delay Worden takeover vote

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THE STATE PARKS and Recreation Commission will consider renaming the Fort Worden State Park Commons Building after the late Nora Porter.

Porter, a Port Townsend civic and political leader and supporter of Fort Worden, died in October at the age of 75.

She helped spearhead a community campaign several years ago to raise money to buy parking for Fort Worden visitors.

Porter opposed user fees and urged open public access at all state parks.

Peninsula Daily News
PORT TOWNSEND — The state Parks and Recreation Commission will be asked to delay a final decision on the governance of Fort Worden State Park when it meets Thursday.

Staff members said last week they will ask the commission to consider providing more time for the public and the state Legislature to learn about options for creating a lifelong learning center at the state park and express their views to the commission before a final decision is made.

The commission’s meeting Thursday will be preceded by a public hearing on Fort Worden and the Fort Worden Lifelong Learning Center Public Development Authority hearing at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Wheeler Theater at Fort Worden State Park.

Public comment for individuals will be limited to three minutes.

The commission will consider options and possibly take action at 9 a.m. the next day after the commission considers the next steps in governing the 433-acre state park and its old military barracks that have been converted into educational and tourism-related facilities.

Most of the options considered involve a role for the Fort Worden Lifelong Learning Center Public Development Authority.

Those options range from cooperative management to a complete transfer of the park to the public development authority.

Learning center

The commission in 2007 adopted a vision for Fort Worden as a lifelong learning center — an academic campus offering a number of educational and recreational options.

The commission in 2009 authorized staff to enter into an agreement with the Centrum Foundation, a nonprofit arts organization housed at Fort Worden State Park.

The agreement was to identify milestones that would need to be achieved to establish a long-term cooperative management agreement for the park.

In 2010, Centrum withdrew from the partnership development process, and the public development authority notified the commission that it wished to take Centrum’s place in being considered as a prospective partner.

The most recent proposal is for the public development authority to take over management of some or all of the park while maintaining public access to it.

The state commission has told the public development authority, which was created by the city of Port Townsend but which operates separately from it, to submit a business plan by November.

Park management

The plan would deal with paying for park management, including how to address a projected $700,000 shortfall.

Kate Burke, former Fort Worden general manager, has begun a three-month, $21,000 contract to help refine the business plan, and up to $23,000 could be paid in an agreement with PROS Consulting for development of that plan.

On 11,000 feet of salt-water frontage, the park is known for its large collection of historic buildings from its origins as a 1900s-era coastal defense fort.

The park is the setting for a variety of festivals, workshops and community events.

Discover Pass

Also on the agenda is an item to consider a policy for managing special events in state parks with the new Discover Pass requirement in place.

The Discover Pass was created by the 2011 Legislature to generate revenue no longer available from general fund sources to cover the costs of operating state recreation lands.

Since July 1, visitors on state-managed recreation lands — with certain exceptions — are required to display a $30 annual or $10 one-day pass on their vehicles.

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Last modified: March 24. 2012 5:27PM
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