Washington State moves to preserve Port Townsend

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Point Hudson is the home to an annual wooden boat festival. Photo courtesy of Port Townsend Leader.

Point Hudson is the home to an annual wooden boat festival. Photo courtesy of Port Townsend Leader.

On February 26, commissioners for the Port of Port Townsend, Wash., voted unanimously to partner with the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation to restore and preserve Point Hudson, a popular recreating and boating area.

The partnership agreement will direct port staff to start working with the nonprofit Washington Trust over the next two years. Employees will start with taking inventory of the existing conditions of Point Hudson to determine the next steps for a potential long-term lease of all or part of the point to the trust.

“This is really the first step in a process which, if successful, will take a number of years,” Eric Toews, deputy director of the port, told the Port Townsend Leader.

The partnership lasts until the end of 2021. Over the next two years, the port and the trust will conduct a fair-market value survey of Point Hudson, prepare the first phase of an environmental site assessment and create a facility-condition report on the point’s current buildings and infrastructure including the Point Hudson Jetty. The team will also conduct a survey of historic and cultural resources and a financial history of the port’s previous capital investments and future financial needs at Point Hudson.

Upon completion of the assessments, the Washington Trust will discuss possibly leasing Point Hudson with the goal to preserve, restore and invigorate the area.

After the Maritime Washington National Heritage Area Act was signed into federal law on March 12, 2019, the trust was designated to coordinate the state’s new maritime heritage area. The bill, which was written by Rep. Derek Kilmer, D-Wash., seeks to highlight all maritime landmarks within a quarter mile of the shoreline around Puget Sound, creating a 3,000-mile heritage trail along the coast.

For the first 10 years, $1 million per year will be appropriated for activities that celebrate and encourage the shipping and shipbuilding history of the area. Establishing a heritage area will also qualify communities to apply for certain federal grants and to draw contributions from state, local and private sources.

“That (designation) really set the stage with thinking more holistically and specifically about our maritime resources across the state,” Chris Moore, director of the Washington Trust, said. “It would be an understatement to say that Port Townsend really represents in a lot of the ways all the themes and the goals that are wrapped up in the heritage area.”

The Washington Trust will begin crafting a management plan this summer to determine how the funding will be appropriated across all the areas within the maritime heritage area. A partnership with the port could put Point Hudson at the center of the plan.

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