By Michael Jones, community development director
In 2017, the city asked voters to approve a tax of two-tenths of 1 percent on retail sales to fund a Transportation Benefit District. The voters resoundingly said yes. The money raised will go towards road, sidewalk and trail projects. Thank you for helping build a better Blaine.
2017 brought many inquiries about the former airport property. A few of those inquiries turned into a sale to Chuckanut Bay Foods, a pending sale contract with Yorkston Oil, and a letter of intent with IDS Real Estate. Chuckanut Bay Foods will be constructing a food manufacturing facility. Yorkston intends to develop a fueling station with a restaurant. IDS is negotiating a possible purchase of all the remaining property with the first tenant to be a 20,000-square-foot grocery store.
We accumulated and released survey results on the Strategic Economic Initiative which placed downtown development, property clean up and derelict building abatement high on citizens’ list of priorities. Enforcement efforts have cleaned up over 100 properties and resulted in several demolition projects.
We’ve seen quite a bit of activity downtown with the opening of The Vault Wine and Event Space, construction of a new home for Borderview Dental, ongoing construction of a new Visitor’s Center and a coffee shop. Plans are in the works for other downtown investments.
A fledgling downtown development association is up and running. You’ll surely hear more from this new partner in 2018.
A part of Hughes Avenue at the eastern city limits was reconstructed. More work on Hughes near Peace Portal Drive will occur in 2018.
We continue to seek approval and funding for Exit 274, to create more access from I-5 and reduce train delays at the southern entrance to the city. We’ve enhanced our park system with a basketball court in Heron Pond Park. A large lawn area, improved parking, and improved trails are in at Lincoln Park.
Through property donation and purchase, we’ve accumulated a 4-acre site for the future Cain Creek Park. The Lincoln Park work was completed in conjunction with a sewer extension through the park which removes one of the hurdles to residential growth in east Blaine.
In December, the city council adopted a lean and balanced budget for 2018. Although there are many reasons to be optimistic, we recognize that future budgets will be tight. As demand for services increases and revenue collection lags we will be faced with difficult decisions in the years ahead.