By Ian Ferguson
The Blaine Economic Development Advisory Committee (EDAC) is brainstorming solutions to help Blaine’s economy. Some ideas are big, and take long-term planning, but other, smaller actions can start right now.
The EDAC discussed and recommended easy ways to clean up the city to make it more attractive to tourists and potential businesses. Debbie Harger, Blaine community and tourism development coordinator, presented a slideshow of “low-hanging fruit,” easy solutions to problems tourists might have when they come to Blaine.
One such problem is the fishing pier at the end of Marine Drive. There is currently very little signage letting people know that the pier is open to the public, and chains make it seem closed (the pier is closed to vehicles due to road problems, but open to pedestrians and bicycles). A simple sign and plantings would make the area more welcoming, Harger said.
City manager Dave Wilbrecht presented a slideshow of a driving tour through Blaine, focusing for now on the downtown area. One slide showed a tall, empty sign that can be easily seen from the roundabout west of the highway.
“That’s a clear sign that says business isn’t doing well here,” Wilbrecht said.
Wilbrecht said a chain-link fence at the north end of Peace Portal Drive could be hidden with landscaping or replaced with a more attractive fence. The vacant lots at the ends of the Peace Portal cross streets can be mowed and cleaned up, at least until they are turned into parklets as planned. Businesses with visible dumpsters or broken down cars could be encouraged to hide them or clean them up.
“These are small, easy actions that I, as city manager, can get started on right now. They don’t cost a lot, but added up they have a big effect,” Wilbrecht said.
City council heard the economic development council’s recommendations and seemed amenable to the push to clean up Blaine.