Letters to the Editor -- November 03, 2005

Published on Thu, Nov 3, 2005
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Letters to the Editor

The Editor:
The people pushing for the airport drove a family from their third generation estate. Green lawn over rich topsoil, adorned with a perfectly square grove of 30 giant redwood trees, planted over 50 years ago. Nearly 600 other mature evergreen trees, on the nearly six acre estate were home to year-round and seasonal birds and wildlife. Deer grazed peacefully in front of the home’s windows as they had done for generations. It had cement split driveway leading to a storybook type home. Manicured grounds, flowers, shrubs, and view.
I have hobby pilot friends. I have flown above the estate, although not since the destruction. My pilot friends feel the total annihilation of all the trees and the taking of the land was more than a bit harsh. Sorta takes the fun out of landing at Blaine for the hobby pilot with a heart. It really makes no sense. Three or four major leaseholders have sewn up any airport land opportunity. They alone wanted the land and the destruction of the trees. The airport could have served the hobbyists without forcing people off their land. It could have made it without expanding the airspace to include taking the entire quality forest.
The FAA has not granted Blaine airport anything nor does it guarantee anything. The 1992 drawing depicting a crowded truck stop was used by the airport over a decade ago. Now it’s been dusted off and used again. Ironically, the trucks really are there now, idling between the airport and our school, forcing our students and drivers to maneuver dangerously around them, while a few fly about the mess.
Caryn Johnson

The Editor:
“Growing Old in Blaine: Toward a New Paradigm” was an essay recently offered to The Northern Light’s reading public. Five people requested it, and I’ll present one quotation from each. I wish to protect their identities, so I’ll only reveal their communities. Sorry I couldn’t quote more; we’ve a 350-word limit. The Oregon writer is pondering a move to Blaine.
“I don’t claim to be a solver of problems but I do recognize that I am an integral part of the solution by both encouraging an autonomous community and living my own, an embedded sense of community in us all, founded on what is good and what is right rather than protecting political connections and doing one’s friends a favor.” – Portland, Oregon.
“Your premise that the city council should be totally familiar with its city is excellent. The idea had never occurred to me, and it is so obviously correct. The concept of a census to put an interior spotlight on the city is also a “no-brainer.”– Whatcom County.
“Having lived in Orange County for 60 years we have seen it change from a beautiful agricultural area with open spaces between cities and clean air to breathe, to very crowded and almost entirely covered with asphalt and houses and shopping centers, with no real natural open spaces left, and with almost gridlock traffic most days. Please continue to speak and write and get the attention of the council before it is too late.” – West Blaine.
“The heart of the matter of course is your point of view and the plan. I hope many people take the time to read and ponder your ideas. It is time well spent whether one agrees or not, the debate is important and productive.” – Birch Bay.
“I would highly agree with your comment about developers and investors and this is indeed the scary part – the greed of mankind. Developers make their dollars and do they care at all about the infrastructure?” – Lower Mainland, British Columbia.
If you’re curious about my essay, please send your request to dclark30@peoplepc.com.
Richard Clark

The Editor:
Often the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) is contacted by concerned citizens to comment on a proposed airport closure in their community. While we are prevented from giving opinions on specific ballot measures, we regularly reach out to educate communities on the long-term benefits of airports.
The state recognizes the interests of local communities in developing land to its highest and best use, while at the same time, balancing certain land uses, which are essential to a community, but unpopular to neighbors, such as airports.
The state views airports of all sizes as important transportation assets. Consequently, the legislature has given airports special status as “Essential Public Facilities” under RCW 36.70A.200, requiring local jurisdictions to take extra measures to protect them. It is in the state’s interest that aviation facilities be preserved in order to provide air transportation access to all regions of the state, as well as for emergency services, and support of local economies, where communities lacking an airport may be at a disadvantage when competing for new business. The Federal Aviation Administration also supports local airports in order to provide a strong and secure air transportation network from coast to coast.
It is a growing trend that small communities across the country struggle to keep local airports open under increasing development pressure and adjacent incompatible land uses. Once an airport is closed, it can be extremely difficult to find an alternative site and frequently the transportation link is lost forever. Public officials of this state and the nation recognize these conditions and provide programs to support and protect these essential but difficult to site public facilities.
John Sibold
Aviation director, WSDOT

The Editor:
I support the continuation of the Blaine municipal airport.
According to a letter dated October 20, 2005, to the Blaine mayor and city council members from the airport owners and pilots association, “Over 75 percent of those who arrived at your (Blaine) airport were visitors to your area. And as visitors and tourists, they spend money in your community. According to the state of Washington, in the year 2000, the airport’s economic impact in your community was nearly $1 million.” I think that statement proves that the Blaine municipal airport is financially feasible.
The organization behind the push to close the airport, the West Blaine Business Association, has announced that the best use for the airport property would be for a truck stop, tavern and motel. The reasons they cite for closure of the airport are lower noise pollution and a safer community. A truck stop would certainly create more noise at a continual rate and those trucks carrying hazardous, flammable and noxious materials do not make a safer community.
Mike Myer’s letter, published in The Northern Light, October 20, shows that the money derived from the sale of the airport would not come close to the cost of closing the airport.
As a longtime Blaine resident, I ask you to remember the Burlington Northern Railroad station, which now stands idle. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. Do we continue to react in this manner and lose the airport as well?
Clare Nurre

The Editor:
Please do not close the Blaine airport.
This is an important airport for me since I have friends and relatives living in Blaine and it is much easier to visit them and spend money in Blaine if I can fly there as opposed to a three plus hour ferry/automobile ride from Friday Harbor.
Needless to say, visits would be much less frequent if the airport is closed.
Thanks for your time and consideration.
Dave Schroder
Friday Harbor

The Editor:
I would like to use your forum to convey an extreme debt of gratitude to the Blaine Community Theater for their presentation of Dracula at Stafholt Good Samaritan Center on the evening of October 27.
They came with open hearts and compassion for our residents by presenting their delightful play, bringing their props, setting up and performing for our special group of Blaine citizens. A wonderful time was had by all who attende as senior citizens do not have much access to the performing arts.
I express my humble thanks to each and every cast member and their willingness to take time out of their daily schedules to come to our facility and bring our residents a little piece of themselves. May God bless you all.
Ginger Perez, Activity director,
Stafholt Good
Samaritan Center

The Editor:
Back in 1992 the airport was voted on and by a slim margin the voters voted to keep the Blaine airport. I was not in real estate at this time and airport supporters used a potential truck stop as a fear tactic to keep the airport open. The city was filled with Canadian consumers shopping for cheap gas, cigarettes, milk, beer and pull tabs.
Today things have changed dramatically. Downtown is very quiet seven days a week. In 1992 the city collected over $800,000 in gas and gambling taxes. In 2004, the city collected less than $100,000 from these same taxes! This money is not coming back from these sources and the airport property is a prime area to recoup some of our tax losses.
Don’t let airport supporters scare you with legal threats that closure of the airport could cost the city a few million dollars. I am in real estate and I can guarantee that the airport property could sell very easily for over $5 million.
Despite what airport supporters say we don’t have to sell the property. Many of the leaseholders such as Yorky’s would probably stay. Airport supporters are falling for the idea that Dennis Hill is putting a truck stop on the airport property! These people are afraid and desperate. I live two miles outside of Blaine and the city of Blaine is not obligated to fulfill any of my ideas.
For the record a first class softball and soccer complex is what I would like to see the property converted to.
Our city is not being represented by three Semiahmoo city council members. Despite overwhelming evidence that supports shutting down the Blaine airport, these three guys continue to associate themselves with a group that is trying to scare voters with false statements concerning the future use and the value of the airport property.
In the mid 90s Art Lawrenson, Tony Fiore and I worked very hard for three years to convince city council to eliminate the gambling tax. It sure would have been a helluva lot easier if we were all on the same city council and were allowed to campaign and vote on the gambling tax!
Dennis Hill

The Editor:
With so many misconceptions and downright lies about the airport, flying around, I had to write. As a member of the Revitalize Blaine Now (RBN) committee, a 46-year citizen of Blaine, and having served eight years on the city council, I offer the following for your consideration.
By county records the airport property consists of 42 acres (not 34). I hear this property is comparably worth $2 per square foot – yet I’ve seen independent appraisals at over $5. Maybe the fact that it adjoins SR543 has something to do with it. Also, with grant repayments, leaseholder damages, litigation, contaminated soil and fund repayments it would cost $4.6 million to close the airport. Wow! This sure seems like a lot of liability for a business whose only source of revenue is fuel sales and a few leases.
But wait! Isn’t $16 million of ‘free money’ just waiting to come into Blaine? Sounds good, but during my tenure on the city council dealing with streets, water, stormwater, electric and wastewater agencies, not once has a grant/loan financial plan ever developed as hoped. With all the homeland security issues, aging infrastructure and high demand of our airports across the U.S. why would the FAA want to sink $16 million into Blaine? To rescue us from hurricanes or tsunamis perhaps.
Truth is this issue isn’t about a truck stop or agents and developers wanting a quick buck. It’s about determining the greatest and best use. Yes, we do need a study of airport and other potential uses that address costs, benefits, jobs, revenue and real value. But the study (or better audit) must be done professionally and independently. I fear that any citizen group will just be another council committee presented with the same old information that staff and airport commissioners decide to share.
By the way, why does the airport still have contaminated soil? Shouldn’t this be cleaned up regardless of whether the property is used as an airport or not. Isn’t this the right thing to do?
Frank Bresnan

The Editor:
This time of year is when we are all getting asked for donations and a lot of you have opened your hearts and have given plenty to Katrina Relief.
Well I wanted to let you know that there is an easy way to help the Blaine Food Bank without even getting out your wallet.
Did you know that you can transfer your Cost Cutter reward points to the Blaine Food Bank. The transfer can be completed at the customer service desk.
This will help us purchase food for our Thanksgiving bags and throughout the year we are able to get purchases of special items.
We are always in need of food and cash donations to help our clients throughout the year. If you would like to donate we are open from 9 a.m. – noon on Tuesdays and Fridays at 500 C Street. Checks should be mailed to P.O. Box 472 in Blaine.
Please call 332-6350 if you have any questions. Thank you for your continuing support.
Sheila K. Connors
President, Blaine Food Bank

The Editor:
Our community airport is an important asset to Blaine. The airport serves as an economic magnet, attracting jobs and employment opportunities to Blaine. It helps companies decide whether to locate here or elsewhere. Without a viable community airport Blaine could lose out as a place to locate a business if a community airport is necessary for the business’ operations.
Our airport is also a vital transportation link in emergency situations. Recently the importance of a local community airport was clearly shown with Hurricane Katrina. Communities with local airports received medical supplies and were able to evacuate people out of the city when roads were impassible. Towns without a local airport waited and waited for supplies or evacuation.
If Blaine decides to expand the airport it is likely an instrument approach will be added, allowing patients to be evacuated from Blaine even in adverse weather conditions. No more waiting for a Bellingham medic unit to drive to Blaine then back to Bellingham airport.
Often Bellingham is foggy and windy. Blaine’s weather is much better. When the Bellingham airport is closed due to weather it is likely the Blaine airport would be open for medical evacuations.
Our existing airport also provides Blaine citizens access to the Angel Flight organization. This organization provides non-emergency medical flights from Blaine to Seattle and other points for patients and family members.
This organization is especially beneficial for patients with chronic illnesses requiring on-going treatment at major medical facilities located in the big city. Volunteer pilots fly people to their appointments, which eases their emotional and financial stress. If we close our airport, we also lose access to this valuable community service.
The Blaine airport and its future role in this community must not be taken lightly. It is here to serve all the citizens of Blaine now and in the future.
We need to show vision and long term thinking to prevent the loss of this important asset to our community.
Once gone, it is gone forever.
Bob Brunkow

The Editor:
I’m encouraging everyone in Whatcom County to vote for my dad, Gary Lysne, for Whatcom County Council At Large.
After 35 years as his daughter, you can trust me when I tell you he is one honest man who will work tirelessly for you.
I cannot remember a time in my life when he wasn’t there for me. When I was sick, he and my mother were there with jell-o and chicken soup. When I was in a piano recital, they were in the front row. When I wanted to go to law school, my Dad worked three jobs to make it possible. When I was in the hospital with leukemia, they were there around the clock.
My dad hasn’t ever done anything half-way. When he decided to run for county council, he began campaigning 18 hours each day to get elected to serve you.
He is honest to a fault, an investigator you simply cannot lie to, and a man with more integrity than anyone I know.
If you want a councilman who will work tirelessly for you, demand the truth, and fight for what’s right, then you should vote for my dad, Gary Lysne, for Whatcom County Council At Large.
If you are looking for a professional politician who will pander to your special interest until something better comes along, then you should vote for someone else.
Tonya Lysne

The Editor:
I urge everyone to vote no on county charter amendment 1, which mandates district-only voting for all county council members except the at large position.
This measure is simply a divide-and-conquer strategy by pro-development forces against a current majority representation they can’t beat. Want sensible growth, clean water, preservation of our resources and quality-of-life? Vote no and preserve the accountability of all council members to all of us!
Please vote yes on county charter amendment 3 to mandate a voter’s pamphlet for future county primary and general elections.
Why amendment 3? Seeking information to make responsible, intelligent choices among candidates for lower-level offices like commissioners for water district, cemetery district, school district directors, etc., I searched Whatcom County’s government website and google and then called the auditor’s office, only to find that the information doesn’t exist online or in print.
An apologetic, personal e-mail from county auditor Shirley Forslof confirmed this.
How are voters supposed to make intelligent, informed votes for these offices?
Apparently, under the Constitution, the county cannot legally require candidates to file statements explaining why they’re running and why voters should support them.
However, I question whether candidates who fail (or are unwilling) to supply voter information deserve our votes! Among many low-level positions up for election, I don’t know how many are paid positions, but several are “taxing districts,” so we’re talking accountability for taxpayers’ money.
Candidate forums, while useful, are no substitute for free, public access to information about all candidates on our ballots.
Lack of this information makes it possible for low-level corruption and cronyism to infiltrate local government. I’m not alleging it’s the case here – just citing possibilities.
My serious suggestion: rather than guess at a ballot choice because no info is available on a candidate, write in “Bugs Bunny” so at least candidates don’t gain from not providing information. In the future, I say, to any candidates who don’t supply voter information, that’s an affront to voters and to democracy. You might as well be thumbing your nose at us.
Amendment No. 3 ensures the forum/option for candidates to communicate.
Jo Slivinski,
Neighbors for Birch Point

The Editor:
This letter reflects my personal views and is not written on behalf of the city of Blaine.
As a member of both the city council and the master plan committee for the Blaine airport, I am concerned about the negative impacts that closing our airport would have on our community.
As outlined by Mike Myers in a previous letter to the editor, airport closure would likely force the city to immediately pay our liabilities (i.e. clean up, lease buy outs, litigation, etc.)
Selling the airport property at today’s fair market price would still result in a net $3 million dollar loss. The city would be forced to sell at below market value to generate revenue in a timely manner.
The master plan repositions the runway south, away from the school and businesses on H Street and widens and lengthens the runway. This new configuration will also allow instrument approaches, increasing the safety.
The airport has always been financially self-supporting. If the master plan is adopted it will continue to be self-supporting; the FAA provides funds for maintenance of the airport.
Expansion of the Bellingham airport as a passenger service airport increases the need for a general aviation airport close by. This will lead to further lease possibilities and fuel sales, increasing Blaine airport revenues.
Other towns in our area such as Friday Harbor and Mount Vernon (Skagit Airport) have had FAA funded expansions and enjoyed significant economic expansion around the upgraded airport.
Blaine will experience an even a greater degree of growth due to our proximity to the border. The roughly $15 million federal and state dollars that would fund the expansion would have further positive economic impact on our town.
The FAA expansion would come at no cost to the city of Blaine nor to our taxpayers. The FAA funds 95 percent and the state two and a half percent.
The city’s two and half percent obligation has already been met with the purchase of the property at the south end of the runway.
As our city and surrounding area grows, transportation will become increasingly problematic. Loss of our airport would mean loss of medivac possibilities. As our population ages this becomes a concern.
Expansion under the master plan would allow present medivacs as currently used and allow for medivacs using instruments in poor weather and at night.
I came into this issue with an open mind, but after considerable study I can only conclude the closing the airport has great negative potential, while expanding and upgrading the airport would have a significant positive effect on our community.
Bruce Wolf

The Editor:
It is amazing to me how politicians and people on different sides of an issue can’t seem to talk about the issue, but instead find something at fault with the messenger instead of speaking to the issue – the latest is the Blaine airport advisory vote.
While I am sure both sides have stretched some words to the fullest, this latest red herring “the truck stop ad” and “the dollar figure supplied about how much it would cost to buy out the airport” are very misleading and quite possibly inaccurate.
This is an advisory vote on whether the city should look into the possibility of other alternatives for the airport property.
This would be where various ideas, possible impacts to the city’s budget and to see what’s best for the Blaine taxpayers could be discussed and put out for everyone’s review.
I do find it hard to believe that people in certain elected positions and want-to-be-elected positions are not able to free themselves from their bias and seem unwilling to even look at options to see if they may be beneficial or not.
Don’t be fooled by this type of campaigning. Let’s get the real facts on the table for the community to review and discuss.
Mike Dodd

The Editor:
In my opinion, Mike Kent is a successful individual, doing well for himself as a realtor and having his own radio show selling homes.
The current climate is not the right time for him to run for the county council seat.
I hear that he is passionate to eradicate drug and the meth problems.
He should keep working for many more good causes like this for the community. To establish proven credentials take years to build. Not just for election time promises.
As a previous writer says: Mike Kent is not in the same league as Carl Weimer.
Carl Weimer who is a proven achiever should get our vote for the county council seat.
He will serve well by taking the right actions for the better future of the whole county and its people.
Kay Schuhmacher

The Editor:
It is time for change in the city of Blaine and the best place to start is with the people charged with our best interests.
It should be a person who has the ability to understand contract verbiage, assess construction costs, listen to the needs of Blaine citizens and seek the best solution to difficult and complex problems that seem to endlessly arise in our small city. I believe we have that person in Jason Burke.
I am confident he is the right person to help Blaine forge to the future. Help make the change, vote for Jason Burke.
Christopher Wenzl

The Editor:

I have two kids in the Blaine school system and getting information out of the school district is always a challenge.
Earlier this fall, after seeing what happened in New Orleans, I emailed the school district office, the high school principal and the middle school principal asking about emergency plans.
I received an answer from the high school principal only and he was very helpful and wanted to make sure I had the answers I needed. I never got a response from the district office or the middle school. I guess only the high school has a plan.
When my high school student came home last Thursday and told me about the “hit list” we talked about school the next day. I decided to send both kids to school the next day, as did most other parents I conferred with. I knew that there would be security at the school and figured it was safer to have them in school with the police than out of school with nothing to do.
However, Dr. Derrington’s comment about there not being enough time to contact parents is ludicrous. A few years ago this same district office used the emergency school closure notification system (over the radio) to announce a school closure the next day for the teachers to attend a rally in Olympia that had been planned for months.
They gave us one day’s notice for an event to benefit the teacher’s union and no one’s life had been threatened. If a threat to students and faculty of our schools is not an emergency, than what is? If an entire letter could not go home in that time, perhaps a note stating the need for parents to check the radio in the morning?
Thankfully, nothing happened Friday at school. From the bottom of my heart, thanks to the police and the school for working so hard to make sure of that.
Mary Kay Phelps

The Editor:
I was in a state of fear as Dracula secreted his venomous oratory from a white face punctuated with piercing eyes and blood red lips. I empathized with Mrs. Harker with the loss of her beautiful daughter later succumbing to the charms of Dracula and his self serving whims.
I shuttered at Renfield’s warped philosophy of strength and agility through consumption of birds, fries, and spiders. There were tremendous soliloquies that kept the audience attentive and attached.
All this was generated from the local Blaine’s Community Theater’s performance of Dracula last week that culminated in a memorable performance on Hallowe’en.
Each member of the cast should be congratulated for their selfless contributions making this play the success that it has become.
Hallowe’en’s performance was energetic, poignant with clear projection. It sure made Hallowe’en for me this year!
So important was the bond so obvious among the cast and managers when they all expressed their appreciation for everyone involved from the direction, setting, seating, as well as the cast.
Blaine should be proud of the community theater. I challenge its citizens to invest its support for this talented and hard working group. Such a team will reward Blaine continuously in the future. Bravo to the group and continue the great work – it really shows. Bravo Christopher Key!
Gerry Hulbert

The Editor:
I am writing to endorse Bob Brunkow for Blaine city council in the upcoming election. In the past year, since his appointment to fill the vacancy left by the untimely demise of mayor Dieter Schugt, Bob has demonstrated has a willingness to hear both sides of controversial issues.
His business background has proved to be invaluable when dealing with budgets and other financial matters.
He is also a diligent worker on council and has been cooperating with staff to see that our comprehensive plan is complete in a timely manner.
We desperately need people of Bob’s caliber on our council during this period of rapid expansion.
I am voting for Bob Brunkow and I hope you will too.
Joyce Vanderpol

The Editor:
I know this is a little late in the game, but I just have to bring some things to light for those who might not have voted on the airport ballot measure yet.
First of all, the measure reads, “Should the Blaine City Council look into the feasibility of closing the Blaine airport.”
The key word here is feasibility. If these preposterous numbers that the pro-airport groups are throwing out in their false and flat-out, lie-filled ads in this paper are true, then you would think that they would be welcoming the challenge of someone deciding if the airport should stay or go.
Because if what they say is true and the costs of getting rid of the airport are so outrageous and the airport is so vital to this town, then the study will come back with the words ‘keep the airport’ on the front page. The end, door closed, story over.
If the vote comes back yes, and a feasibility study is done on the airport, someone from an outside entity will finally get to the bottom of this subject.
The true numbers will be figured out during this study and nowhere else. You can’t trust people that have this much to lose to give you the whole truth, when no one can substantiate it.
This feasibility study will find the true numbers surrounding the airport ultimately determining if it should stay or go.
Please let someone that is looking in from the outside, and not biased either way, give us the real truth. What’s the harm in that? Why wouldn’t we want to know exactly what the best use of the airport property is? It’s really a no-lose proposition for the citizens.
As for what will be put on the airport property if the airport is closed, the sky is the limit. Now I know that the pro-airport people have latched on to the truck stop idea that has been mentioned by Mr. Hill.
Truth is told no one knows what will be there, but really the sky is the limit.
Think about how many companies in the country would love to be so close to the border with trucks going by all day.
Again, once we get the feasibility study back and it says, “get rid of the airport,” then, and only then, can the city start looking for who or what will go there.”
Scott Dodd

Letters Policy
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 should be limited to 10 names. 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.

Please send your letter to:
225 Marine Drive, Blaine, WA 98230 or fax 360/332-2777.

Letters Policy

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.

Please email letters to letters@thenorthernlight.com