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Absolutely. The FWPDA remains governed by a charter with the City that includes the call for “facilitating the implementation of a Lifelong Learning Center.” The reorganization plan works to strengthen the resilience of campus operations in order to better support partner organizations. We remain a part of the Fort Worden Collaborative effort to sustain a vibrant Lifelong Learning Center at Fort Worden. Additionally, the FWPDA’s concession contract will require Hospitality to maintain its commitment to providing services in support of the partners and the campus Lifelong Learning Center mission.
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Yes, and here’s why: The Fort Worden Public Development Authority (FWPDA) reorganized to create operational structures that are better suited for addressing its two primary challenges: recovering from the financial losses caused by the pandemic and addressing the ongoing major maintenance needs of the 95-acre campus and its 73 historic buildings.
Under the plan the FWPDA retains its identity as a public entity governed by a board of directors and chartered by the City of Port Townsend. It downsized to a small administrative support group that focuses on holding the public trust and campus lease with State Parks, managing the leases with campus partner organizations, and passing through state and federal assistance for the Fort’s capital needs. Managing the campus assets will remain a priority for the FWPDA while it works with stakeholders to develop a new approach for this need. Hospitality services formerly operated by the FWPDA are now run by the newly formed local nonprofit organization Fort Worden Hospitality. FWH operates under the terms of a concession agreement under development with the FWPDA.
As a nonprofit instead of a public entity, the hospitality business is now able to take advantage of tools traditionally used to successfully operate a hospitality business. It also qualifies for emergency assistance that the FWPDA was unable to receive during the pandemic, which will make the Fort more resilient in future emergencies. The reorganization plan also reduces the outsized campus maintenance burden that had been placed on hospitality operations.
The FWPDA’s reorganization work involves collaborating with stakeholders to find a fair way to fund the major maintenance and capital investment needs of the campus buildings. This has historically been a challenge for both State Parks and the FWPDA. When the FWPDA took over campus maintenance from State Parks in 2018 it inherited approximately $100 million in deferred maintenance. State Parks will be an active partner in the development of the ongoing Asset Management strategy.
Yes! Here is the Mission Statement as filed with the Secretary of State: Fort Worden Hospitality welcomes visitors to a treasured state asset – Fort Worden State Park and Lifelong Learning Center. We connect people to the park’s resources: the lifelong learning center campus; the cultural, educational, artistic, environmental, and recreational programs offered by the park’s partner organizations; and the trails, beaches, and historic batteries. We also provide hospitality packages, meeting and events spaces, food services, and lifelong learning programming.
The incoming staff members have also established a set of Company Values:
Yes, it is our belief that the new organization of the FWPDA will be more responsive and better capable to address the needs of the partners. The reorganization was established in a manner that will be adaptable to future changes to the partners’ needs. Concerns have been raised that we may make changes that cannot be undone or will limit future opportunities. Those concerns have been heard and the final documents have been crafted in a way that can allow future changes if that need presents itself.
Yes! Anyone can learn and share their thoughts through our public board meetings and also reach out to us at any time. Meeting notices are published on our website and distributed to our media contacts before each meeting, in accordance with the Open Public Meetings Act. Each meeting involves two opportunities for public comment. The meetings are recorded and minutes are taken, both of which are posted to the website alongside meeting materials for public viewing. As we dive into developing a new asset management strategy, we look forward to public input on how to address this critical challenge. If you would like to reach out please contact Meriden Vitale, Public Records Clerk, firstname.lastname@example.org.