by Steve Guntli
Members of the Salishan Neighborhood Association have made it their mission to protect Blaine’s water views, and the city council has voted to support their efforts.
At the council meeting on September 22, the council voted 6–0 in favor of establishing a subcommittee to preserve the views on the west side of Peace Portal Drive. The subcommittee will be added to the Blaine Parks and Cemetery Board’s work plan.
The idea was originally proposed at the September 8 city council meeting, when council directed the parks and cemetery board to hear a proposal and make a recommendation to the council. The board endorsed the project, with one member, Janet Pickard, offering to serve on the committee. Pickard is also president of the Salishan Neighborhood Association.
Glen Pentland and Kathleen Capson are co-chairs of the proposed committee. Pentland has a long-term vision of the city of Blaine as a hub for tourism and maritime activity in the area.
“One hundred years from now, I see bike paths and sea walls stretching all the way to White Rock, with the beautiful views of the harbor kept intact,” Pentland said.
One of the main goals of the proposed “Save the Views” committee would be to help the city purchase and preserve the empty lots along the west side of Peace Portal Drive between F Street and Boblett Street. Of the seven properties in that area, only four are currently occupied with businesses. The remaining lots are either vacant or for sale.
In their early research, the Salishan group determined that the approximate value of the empty lots is $3 million. The group is hoping to petition the city for a levy that would pay for the purchase of these properties and preserve them, either as parks or pedestrian trails. The group believes preserving the water views will stimulate downtown development.
“Once we know the views are in place, more people are going to be encouraged to invest in downtown on the east side of Peace Portal,” Capson said. “It’s exceptionally expensive to build [on the west side of Peace Portal], with the seismic restrictions that are in place, so since it’s vacant maybe it can be put to use for the community.”
The parks and cemetery board will have oversight on the committee. Over the next few months, the board will appoint official members and determine a plan of action.
City manager Dave Wilbrecht estimated that this would be a six-month work plan for the parks board, but he was unable to commit to a specific date since so much is still left to be decided.