The actions of the city council on July 17 directing the Engagement Committee to reconvene to draft ...
The actions of the city council on July 17 directing the Engagement Committee to reconvene to draft a Central Park option and replace the golf course has compelled me to call into question the intentions of the entire engagement process. Beginning with the PROS (Parks, Recreation and Open Space) survey conducted in 2020 which queried only golf course repurposing questions, to the selection of the 21 community members who made up the Mountain View Complex/Golf Course Engagement Committee, it was evident the process was agenda driven.
At the open houses, the public was asked to choose either a Central Park option or one of three golf course options. Compartmentalizing the golf options gave the false impression Central Park’s block of votes was the largest when in fact the combined golf options was larger. The Central Park was never the community’s majority option throughout the process.
Specifically, the process has never answered the repeatedly asked question, “What is the compelling reason for replacing the golf course with park amenities we already have?” As the oldest course in the state on its original site, what is driving the need to focus public spending on eliminating a historical superlative with revenue potential and replacing it with another passive park with some “amenities?” All of which will cost more in development and maintenance than the golf course.
As the sole stakeholder allowed by the engagement committee selection process to represent the golf course, I cannot be part of an envisioning group that through a last minute vote by council morphed into a task force directed to bring back to council a Central Park plan. To attend the July 31 stakeholders meeting would legitimize it and associate me with an engagement committee that has moved completely in the opposite direction of its original stated purpose and has ignored the community input the committee collected this past year.
Only five months remain on the golf course lease. The redirection of the engagement committee and its continued deliberations serve only to melt away the remaining months leaving little time to formulate and broadcast a request for proposal (RFP) should golf, hybrid or otherwise, be authorized to go forward.
As announced at the recent Parks Advisory Board meeting, both Public Works and the Parks departments announced there were no plans to operate the golf course in the new year. Without the continued maintenance of the greens and fairways, the fate of the golf course will be determined, and nothing will be done as we watch the venerable old golf course “grow away.” To prevent this a new lease is essential before the end of the year. There is a private operator hybrid golf course proposal which was presented by community members at both the stakeholders meeting and city council. It could be the saving solution.
Tim Caldwell, born and raised in Port Townsend, began playing golf at the Port Townsend Golf Course in 1958. He served 17 years as the city’s chamber of commerce executive director. Currently, he is a trustee of the Jefferson County Historical Society, a member of the Transit Advisory Group, a citizen’s advocacy committee for Jefferson Transit, and a Fort Worden Hospitality tour guide at Fort Worden State Park. If not golfing, he can be found at JCHS’s research center.