Interview With Gary Cummins

From the interview with Gary Cummins of Port Townsend conducted by Patience Rogge at the Fort Worden History Center on January 3, 2012.  Mr. Cummins is the chair of the Fort Worden Advisory Committee, he retired from a long and varied career with the National Park Service in 2005.  Here he describes his perception of the role of the Fort Worden Advisory Committee:

“We’re at a time of tremendous change at Fort Worden in terms of management, the use of facilities, its organization, everything.  This is going to be a pretty exciting year.  I think the Advisory committee has an important role to play primarily as a conduit or avenue of information both to the Park and to the Public Development Authority (PDA) and the public.  We have the opportunity I think  to be a little more aggressive, a little more active, in soliciting information from the public, particularly our locals.  I know there are a lot of concerns as to what’s going to happen and will their access be hindered in some way.  Is Fort Worden going to become just an elite place only for people who can afford it?  What about the general public that has been using the park for years and years and see it as an asset? Or is it going to be something that is better for everyone where access is unimpeded  as much as possible and there is a greater menu of activities that can involve local people in a positive way?  We need to take these concerns to the PDA and to the Park and be able to respond to the public and act as an honest broker.  I think in some cases we may be bringing concerns that we personally may feel are not valid, but they need to be voiced, they need to be heard.  When an organization changes as much as this one is going to, transparency is really important.  In the absence of transparency, the rumor factories go into overtime and we can spend an awful lot of time putting down these false allegations and concerns that don’t have any basis to them.  But by being open and being seen as again an honest broker between the Park, the PDA and the public we can allay a good deal of that, I really think that’s our primary job.”

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