Commissioner abandons castle idea but workforce housing pursuit persists

Posted 6/11/21

Check-out time came early for Jefferson County Commissioner Greg Brotherton’s idea to buy Manresa Castle in Port Townsend.

Brotherton had floated the notion of a county purchase of the …

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Commissioner abandons castle idea but workforce housing pursuit persists

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Check-out time came early for Jefferson County Commissioner Greg Brotherton’s idea to buy Manresa Castle in Port Townsend.

Brotherton had floated the notion of a county purchase of the iconic landmark at the board of commissioners’ last meeting in May so the historic hotel could be used by government employees who could not find housing in the area.

The District 3 commissioner had suggested that a public purchase of the 41-unit hotel could also provide a living option for employees of other public entities, such as the hospital and city of Port Townsend. 

During Monday’s meeting of the board of commissioners, Brotherton said he met with representatives from Jefferson Healthcare and was told there was no interest in using Manresa Castle for employee housing.

He joked that his proposal needed a bit more time to cook before it could be put on the table.

“I wouldn’t call it a half-baked idea,” Brotherton said.

“I’d call it more like, ‘Oh, I’ve got some eggs and sugar in a bowl; maybe-this-looks-like-a-cake idea.’”

Hospital representatives said the living spaces within the hotel would be a bit cramped for their temporary doctors, and a little more walking-around space was needed, he recalled.

The hospital also looked at a potential purchase of the property the last time it was for sale and conducted a pretty significant analysis, he said. 

That review showed substantial costs for rewiring and other upgrades in the mansion, built in 1892.

Brotherton told his fellow commissioners that he talked to other officials inside and outside county government, and support for a county purchase of Manresa Castle was lacking.

“It does seem like too big of a risk for the benefit that it could supply,” he said.

Still, Brotherton said he liked the idea of securing congregate housing for local government workers. 

“I haven’t given up on the concept,” Brotherton said.

It does involve a fundamental cultural shift, however, from single-family home ownership or individual apartments to a kind of a boarding house approach, Brotherton added.

The commissioner said he would continue to explore the idea of a county purchase of property that could be used for employee housing, but elsewhere.

“I am going to go looking for those B&Bs,” he said.

“I won’t name any B&Bs to try to prevent any headline articles,” Brotherton added, “but there are several for sale right now.”

Starting smaller appeared to be a better approach, he said.

“I haven’t given up on the concept of us investing in workforce housing, specifically for the county,” Brotherton said.

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Jeff Gallant

Instead of building affordable housing by traditional means of working with the private sector and providing affordable land and infrastructure. Big government county commissioner continue to try to provide subsidized housing at high cost to the tax payer. Instant gratification WOW.. A resilient community is no where in sight.

Friday, June 11
Juana Bjurnen-Hale

Instead of squandering money in pursuit of affordable housing using broken traditional means of wasting money on bare land with no existing infrastructure. Open-minded county commissioner thinks outside the box to provide housing at reasonable cost to the residents and taxpayer. Embracing the much-needed fresh take on co-housing whilst rejecting wasteful post-Victorian notions about housing WOW.. A resilient community could begin to build in a housing emergency.

Friday, June 11
I hear there's a bridge in Brooklyn for sale

Meanwhile, another county commissioner, Kate Dean, remains curiously silent on the subject of the Cherry Street boondoggle that she helped spearhead as a member of the board of trustees of Homeward Bound. A $250K loan by the city, a repayment deadline that will go whizzing by when the city is already overextended, and an ill-conceived exit strategy that depends on a known criminal and his corrupt business/false non-profit.

Meanwhile, this rodent infested, rotting building sits atop Cherry Street as a reminder of the ineptitude of our city and county "leaders".

Meanwhile, dozens of rooms, apartments, and houses sit empty at Fort Worden, which is of course mired in a accounting malfeasance disaster that occurred under the watch of the same merry-go-round of city council members, county commissioners, non-profit executive directors, and wealthy retiree board members who circle the wagons when disaster strikes and pat each other back for having pulled to wool over the eyes of this clueless community once again.

Why do we think these individuals can bring anything worthy to the table after years of incompetence and corruption?

Saturday, June 12
Pamela Roberts

Use the money you are wasting on constructing a sewer system in Port Hadlock to build housing for workers in Port Townsend, where the infrastructure is already in place and underutilized.

Sunday, June 13
HarveyW

I would just like to say that the "I hear there's a bridge in Brooklyn for sale" comment was not me. Sure did sound like me.

The truth is out there. Spread the word.

Tuesday, June 22