Letters to the Editor -- September 21, 2006

Published on Thu, Sep 21, 2006
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Letters to the Editor

The Editor:
The article regarding the outcome of the airport study in the September 7 issue of The Northern Light was misleading.
The writer (who left his name off the article) makes it appear as if expansion of the airport is almost free. He states that the city’s contribution has already been paid when actually the rich pro-pilot politicians “paid” with borrowed money from hard working taxpayers with no repayment in sight. There is much more unmentioned expense to come.
The article goes on to say that residents approved an advisory ballot asking if the city of Blaine should explore the feasibility of abandoning the airport as a municipal function. Actually a petition was signed by enough citizens to put abolishing the airport on the ballot, but was changed by Blaine city council’s pro-pilot politicians to its current wording. Not even close to what the people asked for. “We the People,” and the U.S. constitution apparently doesn’t apply under our current government. It seems much of Blaine City Council is there for the purpose of manipulating the outcome of the airport issue. Blaine citizens deserve so much better. The Northern Light article failed to mention the $92.2 million in new annual sales that will be generated when we replace the airport with commercial development as opposed to no such windfall with airport expansion. The Northern Light article never mentioned consultant Paul Sorensen’s comment that, “This is the best industrial property you have. It has the best access and visibility.” Maybe the author has his own personal interest in the airport. My information came from the September 6 issue of the Bellingham Herald. City manager Gary Tomsic is quoted in the Herald as saying, “This is a piece of information that will go on to the council and the public.”
Maybe Mr. Tomsic missed The Northern Light deadline or maybe the author feels this important information need not be passed on to the public.
To those of us who live here for the beauty and tranquility, if you think our “little fishing village,” has airplane noise now, just wait until we get a big city jetway expansion. I recall early on when Blaine’s airport manager made the comment, “The airport’s not going anywhere.” Now I realize perhaps he would know, after all, it’s not really up to the taxpayers, is it?
The pro-pilot politicians just need our money, not our opinions. And they certainly aren’t willing to give up their airport just for the well being and prosperity of the town.
Bottom line, the study favors development over an airport by far. Our voted-in-by-each-other leaders can argue pro-airport all day long, but at least we can rely on the numbers. They don’t lie.
P.S. To the person who wanted to know where Dennis Hill lives, two major airport players cast their votes in Blaine for 10 years while residing in Bellingham before finally being discovered last year. Do you think they care where anyone lives? And paying off airport investors? Don’t let them fool you. Their land will be worth plenty of money with plenty of opportunity. They already rent out hangars for industrial purposes having nothing to do with aviation.
Caryn Johnson
(Editor’s note: The writer of the story was Tara Nelson, who has no vested interest in the airport.)

The Editor:
I think most of us in town like the small airport. It’s the idea of expanding and the fact that it will destroy the last remaining large wetland in Blaine, close off Pipeline Road and add noise and congestion in that area that disturbs most of us. Skallman Park would be history, over 50 percent of the industrial zoning we now have would be tied up in the expansion. Of course if the airport is closed, then we get a strip mall and a bunch of tin buildings housing $8 an hour “industrial” jobs. It seems that the two choices we are getting are really dour. Outsiders are being paid big bucks to advise us on what’s best for our town. What they give us could be applied anywhere in the U.S. Considering our location, I think we can do better.
Tourism, recreation and education to me seems a much better fit for the town. Rather than destroying the wetlands let’s make it into a wetlands bank and use it as part of an environmental/educational tour from the docks to the fish hatchery on Pipeline Road. Rather than closing the airport, upgrade to a top notch A1 small plane airport. Have skydiving and events like we used to. The parachutists could land at the ball fields as an example. This would bring in added revenue for the school district. Build a mountain bike course at Lincoln Park. Connect the various venues by a bike/pedestrian path that would go from the docks to the fish hatchery with arterials branching off to the neighborhoods and schools etc. We have the water already being used for regattas. We could add wind surfing, wake boarding. Our skateboard park is well known to skateboarders throughout the northwest. The music and art festivals are bringing in talent worldwide. Build a convention center and hotel. If we developed tourism, recreation and educational opportunities in Blaine the jobs and investment would follow as a result.
For me, the only people I see benefiting by an expanded airport are the ones investing the $2.9 million in private funds. If it is such a good deal, the city of Blaine should invest in it, not private parties. If the airport closes, it will be those developing where the airport once was benefiting. The rest of us will lose one way or another. If we choose to think outside the box, we could end up with a vibrant, healthy, job-filled community. Hopefully the choice will be ours to vote on.
The water could provide opportunities such as sailing, windsurfing, events, etc.
Make a bike/pedestrian trail through the town from the docks to the fish hatchery at the top of Pipeline. It would provide for a healthy and safe way to get to the various locations throughout Blaine.
Patrick Madsen

The Editor:
While I appreciate that the articles regarding the Blaine municipal airport in the September 7 – 13 issue were fairly reported, I believe there was a significant error.
In the “meetings” article as continued on page 3, you referred to the meeting scheduled for 7 p.m. on September 18 at the community center as a “public hearing.” In fact it is only a public meeting where the city council will receive the completed alternative uses study from the study committee and consultants. I believe this will be in the same format the council received the Airport Master Plan from its steering committee and consultants a few weeks ago.
Also appreciated is that your other airport article in that issue, “Committee releases alternative study” on page 9, points out that the study committee, “acknowledged they had not calculated in some factors such as an underestimated demand for hangar space, the fact that the city’s contribution to the proposed airport expansion has already been paid through land acquisition costs,” “and that hangar leases generate leaseholder tax revenue.”
Nor were the costs of the roads and other infrastructure accounted for in the alternative uses study, (as they have been in the airport master plan). Referencing demand, I would point out that the aircraft based at Blaine municipal already exceeds the master plan predictions for 2010, and would exceed those predicted for 2015 if we had the hangars now.
I would further point out that the 332 jobs that “could” be created on the airport property by 2025 will most likely be created anyway around the expanded airport, as is happening right now, and with that we’ll also have the 119 jobs to be created by the airport improvement itself. In short, we can keep the Blaine municipal airport and have it all.
Don Nelson

The Editor:
I am appalled at the front page headline of last week’s issue of The Northern Light and the lack of un-biased information being released by our city newspaper regarding the study of alternative uses for the airport land. If you are a Blaine citizen who doesn’t regularly read The Bellingham Herald, you would believe that there is no alternative other than keeping and expanding the airport. The Northern Light has failed tremendously in reporting all of the information regarding the study. There are two articles in the Bellingham Herald dated September 6 and September 12 both with overwhelming numbers in favor of abolishing the airport and moving Blaine forward to bigger and better things. An actual economy that could put Blaine where it should be growing like Lynden and Ferndale! The “cost” to the city ($1 – 4 million), is a very small price when the annual payroll to abolish would be $10.4 million through 2025. Not to mention the jobs created to redevelop the land! The leases that the city holds with private citizens do not need to be terminated.
Those two leaseholders, who obviously threaten to sue the city, should think of the economic windfall they would receive if they maintain their leases in a developed area.
Gary Tomsic and our city council have a “tough” decision to make whether or not to let our taxpayers vote on this issue – let me guess, they will decide for you in a private executive session.
I urge The Northern Light to report on the whole good of the entire city, not just on the benefit of a few. I do believe you have an ethical responsibility to your readers!
Rachel Hrutfiord

The Editor:
I have only lived in Blaine for a couple of years and I always look forward to reading The Northern Light and its coverage of the Blaine airport. I would like to congratulate the city on their decision to hire a professional consultant to give their findings on the controversial airport property.
I have heard enough about city council members who are not acting in good faith, chocolate factory owners that have landed in Blaine and lifelong Blaine residents who live in the school district but can’t vote in the city because they live outside the city limits. Hopefully the citizens of Blaine and the city council can step away from the name calling and back stabbing between airport foes and focus on the $45,000 professional consultant’s report that will be presented September 18 at the Blaine senior center.
I understand that this issue has been voted on four different times and again I appreciate the city hiring someone to help our council make an informative and educated decision with regards to the future of the Blaine airport.
Michael Farrell

The Editor:
As a career-long real estate developer and now a citizen of Blaine, I have difficulty understanding why the city council is considering closing our airport and selling the land off to a private real-estate developer. Professionally, I’ve consulted with many communities over the years. Their city leaders have asked me for my suggestions to improve their municipalities’ prospects for economic growth. If the Blaine city fathers put that question to me, my first suggestion would be to improve and expand the airport, a key part of any modern city’s infrastructure. Why? Because Blaine already owns an airport! If a community of Blaine’s size wanted to start from scratch and build a new general-aviation airport in the 21st century, it would face a Herculean task – contentious legal proceedings to condemn land, rezoning for airport use, developing roads and utilities to the airport site, dealing with environmental regulations and concerns and, last but not least, raising the money to built the airport itself. Having an existing facility, the city of Blaine does not face any of these problems. The master plan for improving and expanding the Blaine airport has already been approved by the Federal Aviation Administration.
All the city council has to do is approve the master plan, and it can be implemented entirely with federal-state-private funds, at no cost to the city or the taxpayers.
I appreciate the fact that the city council has received considerable pressure from a few outside developers and feels compelled to give the issue a thorough hearing.
But I hope the council will not allow the vocal volume of a few outsiders to outweigh the logic of keeping our airport open for the good of the city and those of us who live here.
Mark Theaman

The Editor:
Thanks for Karl King for taking my picture by the Peace Arch at its 85th anniversary event. However, I was not the oldest in attendance. Maybe the oldest male.
I wish Norma Kruse, of the Wolten family had been pictured instead, or at least included. I understand she has an important birthday coming up soon.
Many of her dear friends and relatives would love to see a picture of her then.
Leonard Breidford

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