By Jack Louws, executive
Looking back on 2017, I can say that we have had quite an active year in local government. Firstly, we did not obtain voter approval for the new justice center, so we are now exploring our next steps with our existing facilities.
We will complete phase 1 within the Whatcom County Jail to replace the sprinkler system, replace doors and locks, enhance safety lighting and replace some kitchen equipment. The next decisions Whatcom County Council will need to make will have major cost, code and operational challenges to overcome.
As quoted in the October 2016 report by Design2Last, architect for the repairs of the existing jail, “the existing configuration and footprint (of the jail) preclude any meaningful and permanent answers to space related issues such as medical, booking, classification and programs. Some relief might be gained by an addition, but the cost of that would outweigh the benefits and so should be carefully considered as topics for further analysis. We believe the best and only permanent solution is to build a new jail.”
In Birch Bay, work has progressed on the Birch Bay berm and pedestrian facility. Public Works has completed nearly all of the easements required to allow the work to commence. It has been a long road and we are so thankful for community support and cooperation. It will certainly be a great enhancement to the waterfront when completed.
It is very rewarding to celebrate the one-year anniversary of the lifting of the shellfish harvesting restrictions for Drayton Harbor. However, continued community participation in pollution prevention actions to ensure that it can be kept open is important. My thanks to all for doing your part to keep the water clean.
I wish everyone the very best for 2018 and trust you will continue to let me know your thoughts and concerns on local government projects and activities. We are here to serve all citizens. The county website is increasingly providing information on our services and we are more and more utilizing social media through Twitter and Facebook interactions. I urge you to stay in touch.