Port Townsend “strong but tired”
PORT TOWNSEND — In his “State of the City” presentation, City Manager John Mauro gave something of a pep talk, as well as an acknowledgment of the issues Port Townsend faces.
“The state of the city is solid, but tired,” said Mauro, who took office in November 2019.
In his “Chamber Cafe” live chat hosted by the Jefferson County Chamber on Friday, he first eliminated the “Challenges” PowerPoint slide.
The list of hurdles facing the city includes the pandemic, housing shortages, supply chain issues, inflation, climate change – and the effects of it all on our mental health.
Then Mauro and his co-presenter, Mayor David Faber, turned to the positive.
“I would like to draw attention to the successes of the past year,” the city manager said before showing slides with dozens of bullet points on parks, building permits, buying property, the municipal swimming pool and the balanced budget.
Among the items on the success list:
• The city purchased 14 acres on Evans Vista, near the Rainier Street roundabout, for affordable housing development.
• An agreement for the use of water and the maintenance of the facilities has been finalized with Port Townsend Paper Corp.
• In 2021, the city issued 969 permits totaling $28.6 million in appraisal.
• Operation of the Mountain View Pool has been transferred to the Olympic Peninsula YMCA.
• The “Engage PT” portal has been redesigned and displayed on the cityofPT.us website.
• The city has approved permits for the Seventh Haven Affordable Housing Project, the Pat’s Place Transitional Housing Village and the Trail Crest development off Cook Avenue.
• The City and Port of Port Townsend and the Jefferson County Utility District have embarked on the Sims Way Gateway project, which includes cutting and replacing poplar trees, building a bike path and expanding of Boat Haven.
For 2022, Mauro had another list. Under the “Quality of Life” heading, there were only four bullet points:
• Launched a community discussion on the future of municipal parks, swimming pool, golf course and the Mountain View Commons campus;
• Launch of a new Advisory Council on Race and Social Justice;
• Carry out the Sims Way Gateway project with “broad public and stakeholder engagement”;
• Strengthen programs at the Port Townsend Pool and Library “through extended hours and partnerships”.
During the Q&A session, Faber and Mauro were quizzed on topics ranging from public transit to what Port Townsend leaders are doing about climate change.
On the latter, Faber said there were two components: resilience and trying to prevent climate catastrophe.
“I was delighted to see that we have an inter-agency climate action committee,” Mauro added.
This joint City and Jefferson County panel meets on even-numbered months; its next meeting is scheduled for April 12. cityofPT.us under Government, then Councils and Commissions.
Mauro then added that he plans to use a grant to assess the vulnerability of city assets to the effects of climate change, such as sea level rise, storm surges and other impacts.
“I hope this will be a good start for a conversation about how we work together,” Mauro said.
As for public transit, Faber noted that Jefferson Transit, a separate city agency, is launching its new route to Kingston on Tuesday, to connect with ferries to Seattle and Edmonds.
The transit agency is also studying electric buses, Faber added, but their range poses a problem in this rural county.
Mauro, for his part, summed up his view with a few statements during Friday’s discussion.
“We are a community where we all depend on each other,” he said.
“We have talent. We have energy. We have creativity.
The Jefferson County Chamber will feature two more chamber cafes next month: On March 4, Port Townsend Library Director Melody Sky Weaver and a panel will discuss the path to re-engagement and a ‘new normal’ for 2022, and on March 18, Dr. Allison Berry, Health Officer for Jefferson and Clallam Counties, will be the speaker.
For information and to register for these sessions, both at 10 a.m., visit jeffcountychamber.org. The chamber can also be contacted at 360-385-7869.
Jefferson County Senior Reporter Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-417-3509 or [email protected]