By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News
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“This is at a very early stage, but we are very excited about the possibility of being in such a historic building,” said WSU Extension Director Laura Lewis.
“It makes a lot of sense for the extension office to be closer to the county seat.”
The 70-year old structure is located on Point Hudson and is owned by the Port of Port Townsend.
It was, until recently ,occupied by the Port Townsend Foundry.
It is also the original home of the Wooden Boat Foundation.
The 2,800-square-foot building with the distinctive cupola on its roof has fallen into disrepair and would have to be renovated prior to WSU's occupation, according to the port's deputy director, Jim Pivarnik.
This includes paint, molding and installation of a central heating system, Pivarnik said.
“We are looking for a long-term tenant, not someone who will be there for just a year or two,” Pivarnik said,
“The building needs a lot of love, and we are hoping that WSU will commit to helping us with the renovations.”
Lewis said the current Port Hadlock building which has housed the college for 20 years has served the college well but relocation makes sense at this time.
She said the proximity to Port Townsend will benefit the Extension as it does a lot of business with the county.
Additionally, the recent donation of a 26-acre farm on Marrowstone Island will allow the school to maintain an educational presence in the county.
“With the farm along with the Tri-Area Community Center and the Jefferson County Library after its renovation, we will have plenty of places to present our programs in the county,” she said.
The idea for the relocation came from Lewis but hit a snag when the city of Port Townsend ruled that the facility's zoning required maritime-based uses for all the buildings on Point Hudson, for which WSU Extension did not qualify.
Lewis and Pivarnik appealed that decision and the city relented when reminded of the extensive water-based programs offered by the university, Lewis said.
The city's reversal occurred last week which put the idea on a faster track, and the matter will be discussed during a regular Port of Port Townsend meeting at 1 p.m. Wednesday at 375 Hudson St.
Pivarnik also said he planned to schedule a “walk through” of the property with Lewis and architect Richard Berg to determine the scope of the needed renovation work.
“The last two tenants have heated the building with portable space heaters. We'd like to install a central heating system that would be safer than space heaters,” Pivarnik said.
The Cupola House would be an easy fit for WSU because it has the same size and footprint as its current facility, Lewis said.
WSU currently has an eight-member administrative staff that would be relocated to the new building.
The earliest the move would take place is late spring, Pivarnik said.
Jefferson County Reporter Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.