By Stefanie Donahue
Last week, Blaine joined a handful of cities in Whatcom County to receive thousands of dollars in grant funding from the Port of Bellingham in support of economic development.
The project funding comes from the Port of Bellingham’s small cities economic development program. On March 8, port staff announced $65,000 in funding for Blaine, Lynden, Ferndale and Everson – all cities agreed to match the funds to support economic development projects.
“An important part of the port’s mission is to promote economic development throughout the region,” said port commission president Dan Robbins in a statement. “This program is a terrific resource for the smaller cities of Whatcom County to address local economic development needs.”
The city of Blaine applied for the grant in mid-February and received $15,000. The grant will pay for the design of an access route on the west side of Peace Portal Drive south of Marine Drive. The goal is to eventually provide delivery and parking access to properties on that side of Peace Portal.
“Consultation with property owners has identified lack of access as a key development hurdle for these properties,” read Blaine’s funding request letter. “Overcoming the access challenge will facilitate development. Due to the steep topography, vehicle access for deliveries and for on-site parking requires use of the easement.”
Previously, the city was in talks with two property owners who have multiple assets near the existing easement and both expressed interest in using the new alley. In the request letter, mayor Harry Robinson said one of the owners is in the midst of designing a new mixed-use building while the other is in the early conceptual stages of a restaurant project.
The Port of Bellingham’s matching fund program was created in 2004 and has since awarded more than $650,000 to cities in the county.
Participating cities have matched up more than $1 million and the program has leveraged more than $45 million in capital project funding.