Oversaw TwispWorks campus development
The Twisp Public Development Authority (PDA), created in 2008 to launch the conversion of a former U.S. Forest Service complex into what we now know as TwispWorks, is about to disappear into history.
The Twisp Town Council will hold a July 27 public hearing on a proposal to dissolve the PDA, a request that came from the authority’s own board of directors. The board, chaired by David Gottula, the soon-to-retire general manager of the Okanogan County Electric Cooperative, sent a letter to the town in April of this year, asking that the authority be dissolved.
The PDA, having achieved its original goals and handed over operation and development of TwispWorks to the nonprofit TwispWorks Foundation several years ago, has no assets or property, no source of income and no ongoing projects — in effect, no remaining reason to exist. The resolution the Town Council will consider after the public hearing notes that “The Authority is no longer necessary for the purposes designated in the Enabling Ordinance and Charter.”
At the June 22 Twisp Town Council meeting, TwispWorks Executive Director Don Linnertz said the PDA’s most-recent project, administering a grant to study the need for improved broadband access in the Methow Valley, is winding down. All buildings that had at one time been owned by the PDA are now owned by TwispWorks, he said. The PDA transferred most of its assets to the TwispWorks Foundation in 2014 and had completed all property transfers by 2020, including a solar power project at the South Shed.
The Forest Service established the Twisp Ranger Station on 6.4 acres at the south end of Glover Street in 1929. In 1994 the Forest Service consolidated operations to Winthrop, and the Twisp Ranger Station was eventually vacated. In 2008, the property went up for auction.
At that point, according to the TwispWorks website, “the local community recognized an opportunity to revitalize the campus and create a place for creative enterprise bringing arts, culture and business together to increase the economic vitality of the Methow Valley.”
The PDA was chartered to take possession of the site. An anonymous donor offered a $1 million loan towards purchase of the campus — with the provision that the loan would be forgiven if, at the end of 10 years, the campus would be self-sufficient.
The community created a 10-year master plan for the site. At the time, the PDA’s first president, architect Ray Johnston, said that “Although the specifics of development will depend on partnerships, funding and community support, the PDA board has decided that the site will achieve the highest standards of environmental sustainability, from energy use to water conservation. In addition, work performed on the site will reflect a high level of craftsmanship. There is a focus on respecting the existing buildings and green spaces, and on connecting the site to the rest of town — making it easy to bike and walk through the campus on the way to and from different parts of Twisp.”
Over the next decade, buildings were refurbished and the grounds were relandscaped. Campus “partners” include numerous artists and craftspeople working out of studios, the Methow Valley Interpretive Center, the Liberty Bell High School Welding Tech program, manufacturing company eqpd, small professional firms, radio station KTRT, the Methow Valley School District’s Independent Learning Center, the Room One/Little Star Montessori South Collaborative, the Old Schoolhouse Brewery production facility, and the Methow Valley News.
In June 2019, the TwispWorks’ campus achieved full occupancy and became self-sustaining through rental and earned income, and the original $1 million loan was forgiven.