Gov. Jay Inslee’s issuance of a “stay at home” order to Washington state residents on March 23 compelled the Fort Worden Public Development Authority to further adjust its operations as of March 25.
The PDA had already closed its restaurants and reduced its operations across campus, while still offering accommodations for the few guests who sought to visit, and could still do so under the guidelines at that time.
But with Inslee’s order coupled with the temporary closure of state parks starting on March 25, the PDA made the decision to close all of its public-facing business.
“These are unprecedented times, and our priority is to protect the welfare and well-being of our employees, guests and community,” PDA Executive Director Dave Robison said.
Although hotel workers are among the “essential employees” identified by Inslee, the PDA made the judgment that it can’t sustain the fort’s hospitality operations without vehicle access to the park.
“The PDA strongly supports the temporary closure of all state parks to help limit opportunities for social gatherings on state park properties,” said Joan Rutkowski, executive coordinator and public records officer for Fort Worden.
According to Washington State Parks, all restrooms and campground and day-use areas will be closed and vehicle access will not be permitted.
Rutkowski noted the PDA is in the process of further reducing, on a temporary basis, the already limited number of staff members who maintain the fort’s critical operational functions.
Robison added that he expects to reevaluate the fort’s operations in early April, based on any changes to Inslee’s orders.
Updates will be posted to fortworden.org and the PDA’s social media accounts.
In the meantime, Brian Hageman, Olympic View area manager for Washington State Parks, advised pedestrians who wish to walk the fort that, if they’re driving to get there, most of the area outside of the fort’s gate is posted “No Parking,” but they can park at North Beach County Park or find a legal parking spot in the surrounding neighborhoods.
Hageman clarified that walking the fort grounds is permitted, but reminded those who would go there that “all buildings, restrooms and facilities are closed,” and while park rangers will be patrolling the park, other staff will be at home.