Whidbey News-Times


Deception Pass retreat center gets a slow upgrade

By NATHAN WHALEN Whidbey News-Times Staff reporter
January 28, 2013 · Updated 3:26 PM

Deception Pass State Park ranger John Whittet pries a wooden gutter off a building before replacing it. Park staff have been busy in recent years completing a number of improvement projects at the Cornet Bay Retreat Center. / Nathan Whalen/Whidbey News-Times

Amid dealing with thousands of tourists, persistent goose and funding problems, Deception Pass State Park staff have been busy completing several projects at a venerable retreat center.

Park staff showed off their latest accomplishment Thursday night by inviting folks to see the Cornet Bay Retreat Center’s recreation hall, which provides valuable meeting space for the groups that enjoy the retreat center.

Jack Hartt, manager of Deception Pass State Park, said workers spent the better part of a year replacing the walls, roof and floor of the recreation hall and installed a porch.

The renovation cost approximately $25,000 to complete.

The Retreat Center is located east of Highway 20 off Cornet Bay Road. It was originally a Civilian Conservation Corps campsite that housed personnel who build the Deception Pass Bridge and to construct buildings at the state park. Sometime in the 1940s, the retreat center became a camp that is geared toward youth.

“Part of the beauty of it is people feel like they’re by themselves here,” Hartt said. The retreat center offers a low-cost retreat facility for youth groups. He said families, churches and school groups use the facility throughout the year.

The retreat center features 19 cabins which can house up to 180 people, a dining hall, a meeting hall and a small amphitheater. In recent years, park staff has replaced a wall and roof of the dining hall, and the park’s foundation funded renovation of the center’s amphitheater, in addition to renovating the recreation hall.

On a recent visit to the center, park rangers were busy replacing old wooden gutters on the dining hall with new aluminum ones.

Hartt said the projects have been funded by grants that the park has applied for and awarded. He said staff is continuing to install insulation in the cabins scattered throughout the retreat center grounds. That insulation could help extend the season that the center is open.


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