Letters to the Editor
I am writing in response to an article from the September 13 issue of the Bellingham Herald.
I have lived in Blaine most of my life, growing up on 11th Street. I remember distinctly an airplane hanging upside down from the power lines that long ago crossed the truck route. For as long as I can remember there has been this debate around how the airport is used and its profitability.
I read how the proposed FAA backed new airport would attract new business in and surrounding the airport like in Bellingham. If you go to the Port of Bellingham’s website, you find what items they have to attract businesses: Land, warehousing, airfreight, customs brokerage house and trade zone. We already have those business amenities in Blaine.
This makes me wonder – would we be then taking business from the port and is the city of Blaine prepared for competition with the port? Do we as a city have the land surrounding the airport to support industry? The two major overnight carriers (UPS and FedEx) – would they consider moving their freight hubs? Will the existing freight businesses in Blaine move to a port style complex and if they do what happens to the property owners of the buildings they occupy now?
It is obvious to me that something has to be done with the area. I do not think it’s fair to squabble about how much it has cost in the past. What is important is to make a decision based on what we know to be true. We have the businesses that a new airport would attract already doing business. We would ultimately be in direct competition with the Port of Bellingham. Land is becoming scarce and not all the voters who elect the city council want the airport in town.
Christopher D. Wenzl
I do have to thank American Legion Post 86 and VFW Post 9474 for the great program that they put on at the library on September 11. I saw the announcement in The Northern Light so I went down there to see the program. But only one man from Post 86 and one lady from Unit 86 was there. No one from the VFW 9474 was there. Members from the American Legion Family 247 were there to support the other posts. We waited for the rest to show up until 4:15 p.m. When no one did, the Post 247 and second district commander said a few words, then we said a prayer, the pledge to the flag, played taps and saluted the flag.
The next time you advertise some activity, the least you can do is to show up. Good job, commanders.
The Editor, Mr. Hughes and Mr. Tomsic:
I wish to register my extreme displeasure over the choice of a military gun as a community symbol, prominently displayed in the center of the Peace Arch City.” Did the person or people who made this decision not see the irony of their choice?
Blaine has never been a battlefield. Our Canadian neighbors have never advanced on our village. What possible relevance could this glorification of war have to promoting peace, love and understanding among us?
Melt the bloody thing down and construct a park bench. Plant a nice little patch of grass in place of that concrete pad and make it a spot where one can reflect on the positive effects humans can have on the world, rather than on the havoc they can wreak.
The Blaine airport is a subject that makes blood boil. Are the airport proponents a bunch of powerful playboys full of greed for riches and are the opponents a bunch of real-estate developers wanting to make a quick buck? Is the city administration willing to make the correct decision (whatever that is) no matter whose toes they step on in the process?
A significant number of people believe that there are some powerful playboys in town. These playboys fought to have trees cut down which was questionable. My nephew flew into the Blaine airport with his mother a few years ago and then took my wife and I for a ride. He found no problem with the trees; I did not either, but then I leave the flying to others.
There are many developers in town who could be called greedy. Looking for a quick buck (some call it the profit motive) without any regard to the good of the city. A four-plex has been constructed across from me that ruins the family feeling of the neighborhood but it is within the profit motive rights of the developer.
The city administration, as much as I admire them, for what they have accomplished, have appeared for years to lack the strength to make the proper and right but difficult decision at times. The city’s legal brain may be right in his opinions but he shows no compassion to a large group of Blaine citizens in the way he cut them down.
For a person who is neither for nor against the airport, finding the truth from either the proponents or opponents of the airport could leave them no closer to the truth then when they began. If, like the proponents say, the airport is a paying organization, who is it paying, do the people of this city benefit at all? If the airport is paying its own way, doesn’t it seem more than fair that they do pay their own way without any assistance from the taxpayer?
I would back the airport if it could be proven that they do pay their own way and that it is in the best interests of the people of Blaine. No committee formed by the city can be trusted to find the truth and to stand up and say it.
The only way that I can be convinced of the need or benefit of the airport is if a disinterested financial accounting firm would do an audit of the financial affairs of the airport. Also, if the powers to be at the airport would publish their last three year’s federal income tax returns, I would have to accept such disinterested report. The city letting the commission run the airport without any taxpayers money would also go a long way in convincing me of the honesty of the commission or whoever else is managing the bloody mess.
Again, I have faith in the city administration. Let’s hope it is not misdirected.
I have no desire to take sides in the Blaine airport controversy. I merely recite the following personal history.
In 1952, I was a smoke-jumper in Missoula, Montana. On the edge of town there was a small airfield, Hale Field, that we used as a base for Ford tri-motors and Curtis travel-airs. We used the Missoula County airport for larger craft.
When I returned from the army in 1955, there was a new smoke-jumper base at the Missoula municipal airport. Hale Field was no longer used.
The last time I visited the site of Hale Field, all there was was a small monument in the middle of the city of Missoula. That monument said, “Site of historic Hale Field.”
It was surrounded by a school and businesses.
My front window looks out on the flight path of our airport, once known as Dirk’s Field. I have yet to note the landing of either a commercial aircraft or a corporate jet. But I have no vested interests, one way or the other.
I’m not a lawyer or obviously an expert on city government, but I thought I had a pretty good understanding on how the “initiative” process was supposed to work. Until now, that is.
Instead of storming city hall with torches and rope, it was understood that the best method of getting the wishes of the citizens known to our city council, was to undertake a petition securing the names of registered voters opposed to the use and proposed expansion of the airport property. Over 500 registered voter’s signatures were presented during the September 12 city council meeting, sharing that the group felt they had qualified the measure in order to bring it to a “vote of the people.”
Instead of commending their efforts, Blaine’s city attorney is quoted on the front page of the next morning’s Bellingham Herald saying that, “only the city council has the authority to eliminate the airfield, not the proposed initiative,” and that “the airport’s use rests with the city council solely – not the electorate,” further saying he’d, “be happy” to take the issue to court. If not the electorate, who is to say how city property should be used?
The efforts of the group “Revitalize Blaine Now” are officially apprising the city council of the wishes of the people. Why would the city attorney “be happy” to take this issue to court if it is what the majority of voters want? The attorney’s memorandum to the city manager was presented September 8. Why did the city manager, knowing that the petition was to be circulated, not advise the “Revitalize Blaine Now” group of the airport’s initiative process exemption status, and that an “Advisory Ballot Measure” should be considered?
The only study undertaken to date has not been with regard to the best use of the property, but only as to the best use of the property as an airport. If successful, it will cost hundreds of thousands of Blaine taxpayer dollars in the process, allow continued lopsided leases, misuse of taxpayer’s property, and restrictions and concerns to existing and future legitimate businesses on either end of this hobby airport’s flight path. Many would contend that the potential benefits of alternative use will far outweigh the costs to abrogate existing leases needing abrogating.
Development up H Street, along Odell and south of Bell Road on Portal Way would mean that this hobby airport, either expanded or left in its present condition, will be located right in the middle. Expand it as desired by those few who will benefit, and it will become even more of a concern to the school, take up most of the light industrial zoned land all the way to Sweet Road, cost almost half a million dollars to the city tax payers, not forgetting the hundreds of thousands of dollars in past city loans admittedly having little chance of repayment, and it will never generate the kind of tax revenue possible.
The citizens of Blaine are no longer as naive or apathetic as they once were. While there are some at city hall who already understand this, others will have to be shown.
Michael D. Jones
My name is Rhonda Bresnan and I am one of the individuals who went door to door with the petition which reads as such:
Petition for election by the registered voters of the city of Blaine. “Shall the city of Blaine permanently abolish the Blaine municipal airport as a municipal function.”
On September 7, the collection of signatures was initiated. It was my understanding that this petition was up before our city officials by a member of the Revitalize Blaine Now political group for the intent of the city to view it in its form prior to citizens obtaining signatures.
In five days, about eight long-time residents of Blaine, canvassed our local neighborhoods and collectively gathered 511 signatures.
This petition was then brought to Blaine city council on Monday, September 12, where our city attorney said it didn’t have the correct verbiage and it “won’t fly.” This behavior raised a red flag with me. What is going on down at city hall?
With regards to the final draft of the Blaine municipal airport master plan, having read it cover to cover, my comments are as such: No, I don’t want funding from the FAA to expand the airport. No, I don’t want to relocate Pipeline Road. No, I don’t want to relocate SR543 and H Street. No, I don’t want to acquire additional property. My opinion is, if someone offers you a brick of gold, say no, if it’s a dirty one.
Airport supporters would like you to believe that the airport is the key to Blaine’s future, while there are several alternative uses for this valuable property to be considered.
A councilman stated that 511 signatures wasn’t sufficient and that he would listen when we got 1,500. What is it going to take?
Congratulations to the people of Birch Bay for their wonderful response to the community blood drive on September 19.
Sponsored by the Birch Bay Lions Club for the Puget Sound Blood Center, 31 people donated blood (exceeding our goal by one!) and several members of the community volunteered to help the process. Thank you also to NW Fire & Rescue, Fire District #13 for the use of their training room at the Birch Bay station.
A significant turnout for the first effort in several years; maybe we’ll make it an annual event. Thank you again, we can be proud of our community members!
Yours in service.
Kathy Berg, Birch Bay
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The Northern Light welcomes letters to the editor; however, the opinions expressed are not those of the editor. Letters must include name, address and daytime telephone number for verification. Letters must not exceed 350 words and may be edited or rejected for reasons of legality, length and good taste. Thank you letters are limited to five individuals or groups. A fresh viewpoint on matters of general interest to local readers will increase the likelihood of publication. Writers should avoid personal invective. Unsigned letters will not be accepted for publication. Requests for withholding names will be considered on an individual basis. Only one letter per month from an individual correspondent will be published.
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