State Parks Commission to review Fort Worden PDA lease amendment

PORT TOWNSEND — The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission will consider Thursday whether to continue granting the Fort Worden Public Development Authority temporary relief from certain lease obligations.

The relief would have a May 1, 2023, deadline for the PDA to complete a new organization and business plan, according to an agenda memo prepared by state parks staff.

The commission, which meets every two months, will hold its January meeting at Fort Worden State Park.

The business meeting will take place from 8:30 a.m. to 5:45 p.m. Thursday in the Commons conference space at 200 Battery Way in Fort Worden. Commissioners will also conduct a working session with staff from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday at the same location.

The first item on Thursday’s agenda is consideration of final action on an amendment to the 50-year lease agreement with the Fort Worden Public Development Authority that was signed in November 2013.

The amendment, which was executed by the Director on September 8, 2021, deferred revenue sharing and other obligations.

Those attending meetings in person will be required to comply with state COVID-19 law. To join the meeting online, register at www.tinyurl.com/PDN-State-Parks. The event password is [email protected] To assist by phone, call 206-207-1700 and enter passcode 2466 589 4530.

The meeting will also be broadcast on TVW at https://tvw.org/video/washington-state-parks-and-recreation-commission-2022011231/?eventID=2022011231.

Full agendas and meeting links are posted on www.parks.wa.gov/154/Commission-meetings-agendas.

The commissioners are also planning visits to parks in the area. At 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, the commission will tour Fort Worden State Park with partners from the Fort Worden Public Development Authority. Friday at 9 a.m. they will visit Mystery Bay and Fort Flagler State Parks.

The public is welcome to attend tours but must provide their own transportation.

The original lease agreement in 2013 set up the structure for the PDA to manage portions of the 434-acre park campus — about a quarter of the park and including most buildings — while State Parks continues to manage the campground. , the beach and recreation areas.

Since then, financial problems and the effects of COVID-19 have affected the management of the PDA.

State Parks staff recommended that — given the continued depression in tourism, and therefore revenue, during the COVID-19 pandemic — the commission approve a one-time waiver from the requirement to provide park reservation services. camping, campground reception and check-in services and $250,000 in Discover Pass sales.

Staff also recommended approval of a one-time award of up to $150,000 to offset the cost of grounds maintenance, which has essentially stopped over the past 18 months, but for intermittent efforts. park staff and PDA volunteers.

“Maintenance remains PDA’s most extraordinary challenge,” State Parks staff said in the agenda memo.

“With low utilization, many buildings are experiencing a rapid deterioration in condition and operational efficiency,” the memo says, citing major building system failures including boilers, HVAC systems, alarm systems. and restaurant facilities.

The PDA is considering a cost recovery model to pay for maintenance of campus facilities, grounds and other common infrastructure, state staff said.

“This approach would assess a fee for Fort tenants based on square footage or some other objective measure, which in sum offsets the full cost of day-to-day upkeep of the campus,” the order’s memo reads. of the day.

It is also recommended that the commission establish a temporary requirement that the PDA obtain Director approval for any subletting of structures within the PDA rental area with a term extending beyond May 1, 2023. .

The PDA has made changes to stabilize its finances, State Parks noted.

He put together a new administrative team, reconciled his finances through 2015, and renegotiated his debt, with Jefferson County providing $378,000 in cash collateral for the repayment of the new loans.

Additionally, the completion of Makers Square through the renovation of Buildings 305, 308, and 324 enabled the PDA to obtain $2,268,200 in federal historic preservation tax credits to help repay loans. construction and contractors, state parks staff said.

Among PDA’s restructurings is the use of a non-profit hospitality concessionaire, rather than PDA staff, to manage conferences, accommodations, food and beverage services.

A Financial Oversight Committee consisting of representatives from the City of Port Townsend, State Parks, and the PDA was established to provide greater oversight.

Staff said in the memo that it is important to determine how best to manage the relationship between the PDA and the resident partners at Fort Worden’s lifelong learning campus.

“With recent changes to the PDA’s organizational structure, it now operates more as a property manager and as a ‘trust’ to ensure Fort Worden’s 2008 Long Range Plan goals are met,” the memo reads.

“The Foundation (Fort Worden) is refocusing on its new philanthropic role while Fort Worden Hospitality is growing in its new role and supporting business model.”

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Managing Editor Leah Leach can be reached at 360-417-3530 or [email protected].


Aurora J. William