Letters to the Editor: May 29 - June 4, 2014

Published on Wed, May 28, 2014
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The Editor:
Blaine planned to capitalize on its panoramic view by constructing two street-end piers with a later-to-be-undertaken boardwalk between them – a vision that has yet to be transformed into reality. 
Without any construction at all, however, we have some splendid open stretches on Peace Portal with a nice railing along them that allows appreciation of Drayton Harbor and Blaine Harbor. The view is over private property and is not, therefore, guaranteed in perpetuity. Perhaps funding to purchase these properties and keep the view public could be explored. It might be less expensive to purchase the properties than to build a boardwalk between the piers. 
If the old Costa Azul building could be bought and removed, we could certainly develop a street-side boardwalk on which the businesses (or residences) on the inland side of the street could capitalize; a unique feature, in fact.
A little more “tallness” downtown might also be advantageous. Badly situated, unimaginative buildings are not to be desired just because they’re short. Right now, we have height restrictions for buildings and signs and I wonder if these help to maintain Blaine’s invisibility: the town cannot be detected from the freeway except by the green signs that tell travelers no more than our name. Adding “Harbor” to our name might improve the allure of these signs but still, I leave the interstate at exits where I can see tall things; unless I’m familiar with an area, I never get off in trees. 
Because feasibility and economics usually govern how tall anything is built, I would not be afraid to expand our height restrictions. It might be more to the point that we develop with imaginative architectural styles, intriguing footprints and attractive placements that can please visitors and residents alike. And in dedicating the west side of Peace Portal to the open view of Blaine Harbor and Drayton Harbor, height restrictions might become less of a concern on the east side. 
Ken Ely
Blaine

The Editor:
Some thoughts on changing the city’s name to Blaine Harbor. I have read a few opinions regarding the subject and what I gather is that the folks in favor of the name change believe that naming the town Blaine Harbor will attract visitors who would not otherwise stop here and spend their money.
Whether or not the name is changed, any attractions we feel are of interest to tourists, etc., will still need to be promoted. What are these attractions? Why not identify them and find a way to promote them, rather than changing the name of the place that has been home to many for generations? 
It seems like a slap in the face to many longtime Blaine residents, as well as an unnecessary inconvenience to those who would need to change their address information.
John T. Breidford
Blaine

The Editor:
What’s in a name? Apparently, quite a bit.
As an anthropologist, I find the reaction against the proposed name change for Blaine rather interesting. The name change is a practical suggestion for the real problem of a lack of vitality in the downtown section. I have lived in Blaine for more than 30 years and I have witnessed many businesses fold because there are no customers walking the sidewalks.
The reaction against the name change seems to be emotionally charged and I wonder what drives that emotion. Is it a deep love for the high school? And if it is, no one needs to change the name of the school; there’s no law that says a high school’s name must exactly mimic the name of the town it is in. 
Is it a loving memory for all things Republican, since James G. Blaine, the senator from Maine after whom the town is named, lost the presidential race of 1884? Is it a reaction against change in general – “If it was good enough for my grandfather, it’s good enough for me?”
Whatever the reasoning behind each person’s feeling on the subject, we should approach this issue in an open dialog and ponder the advantages and disadvantages of a name alteration. Love for one’s town is a good thing, but city government and decisions such as this need to be based on levelheaded logic and practicality.
Paul Schroeder
Blaine

The Editor:
It’s hard to believe, but it’s once again time for the slug jockeys to don their colors and saddle up their slimy mounts.
On Saturday, May 31, the Blaine Gardener’s Market will prop its canopy at the H Street plaza in downtown Blaine, and there will be something special for everyone in the community. Of course there will be the running of the fifth annual International Slug Races at noon, with sweet prizes for all from Totally Chocolate. From 11 a.m. to noon, spectators can enjoy the soothing sounds of Hot Flash, Blaine’s one and only accordion jug band. 
Of course to go along with all the excitement of the band and the races, there will be refreshments and venders selling plants, fabric crafts, glass art, early veggies and much more. By the way, if you are a vender or want to vend, set up starts at 8:30 a.m., first come, first served, and booth space runs from $1 to $4 for a 10x10’ space. Booths run by youth and nonprofit groups are free. 
See you at the market, and many thanks to sponsors, supporters, vendors, shoppers and the city of Blaine for their support of the Gardener’s Market.
Ron Snyder
Blaine

The Editor:
Ferndale mayor Gary Jensen continues to appear in Pacific International Terminals’ (PIT) pro-Gateway Pacific Terminal (GPT) advertising campaigns.
Mayor Jensen is currently featured on the front page of PIT’s PR-created website for GPT, the Alliance for Northwest Jobs and Exports. In that ad, Jensen is shown in a video promoting the proposed coal terminals: GPT and Millennium Bulk Terminals Longview (MBTL). In the ad, Jensen says, “I want you to know that we welcome them because they’ve proven themselves year after year after year.” I’m not sure how Jensen can even make that claim since SSA/PIT has no coal terminals in our county.
Jensen was also featured in a Facebook post made on May 14 by Alliance for Northwest Jobs on its Facebook page promoting that same video. The caption above the video read: “See why Ferndale mayor Gary Jensen and other Washingtonians support new commodity terminals in the Pacific Northwest.”
Our region, state and communities will bear the brunt of the serious adverse impacts that will accompany GPT if it is built. Adverse impacts from 48 million tons of coal that would be stored, handled and exported at GPT yearly, 487 Capesize and Panamax vessel transits into Cherry Point waterways yearly, nine loaded and nine empty 1.5-mile-long coal trains daily traveling through our communities, and using up to 5.33 million gallons of Nooksack River water daily for spraying on 2.5 miles of 60-foot-high coal storage piles.
Why does Jensen continue to let PIT and its PR firms use the city of Ferndale and him as mayor in GPT advertising? I wish Jensen would contact PIT or its consultant Craig Cole, and request that he not be used in their ads promoting GPT. So far, Jensen seems content to let that practice continue.
We need to hold our local elected officials accountable for their actions of treating the health and safety of our communities in a cavalier manner.
Sandy Robson
Birch Bay

The Editor:
Change happens slowly, but over time it can take a town in the direction that people want it to go – in our case, we’re seeing change over time with the new Rite Aid, steakhouse and other small but meaningful improvements to our town. Perhaps changing the name from “Blaine” to “Blaine Harbor” might be another small step in the direction of a more upscale, tourist-friendly public image for Blaine.
Certainly for local business owners it must be incredibly frustrating to see so much traffic pass by without even slowing down to look at what the town has to offer – unless you count Canadian drivers speeding through town on D or H streets from the Peace Arch crossing to the truck crossing as “tourists.” Would that make the Blaine police officer parked across from the school every day a tour guide, or would they need to write tickets in both English and French for that to count?
Blaine, as a city, does bear the cost of tourism in terms of traffic congestion, road wear and tear, law enforcement, and a really long line of people at the post office, but the financial benefit of that tourism seems to somehow end up in the parking lot of Costco in Bellingham rather than our own local stores. But over time change does happen, and I can’t help but wonder if the new Edaleen Dairy store might help the town retain more of that traffic in the city itself, instead of simply having it pass through going someplace else.
Blaine has the potential to be the kind of upscale community that you might see on the other side of the border at Crescent Beach or parts of White Rock, so perhaps changing the name to Blaine Harbor could be beneficial as part of a long-term image enhancement. To folks whose families have been in town for generations, it seems that the new proposed name is similar enough that it would avoid any real concerns, other than the cost of new signage.
Tim Ventura
Blaine

The Editor:
I appreciate the city inviting the Port of Bellingham (POB) to Blaine to hold a forum so the public could learn more about the parameters of the failing bulkhead, the subsidence issues below Marine Drive and the road closure as well as the challenges that engineering, design and the capital expenditures will present and the choices that will have to be made. 
I only wish the meeting would have been better advertised in the paper than just with an article. I think more people may have attended if it had been advertised better. Oh well, maybe next time.
Thank you also for giving the audience the opportunity to speak about the issues and especially letting me talk about the importance of allowing vehicles to continually have access to the Blaine fishing pier. Driving there by car has been a longtime tradition that is part of Blaine’s culture, and this practice should be respected.
Motor vehicles are also an important means to access the pier for the elderly, the infirm, those with their picnicking and/or fishing gear and everybody during inclement weather, which is more the norm here than what we may want to admit.
Storm watching from the pier in a car is another Blaine pastime. Because the pier is more than 3,500 feet out on the tidal flats from shore and adjacent to the channel’s navigable water, when the tide is in, the mud flats are under water. This gives the feeling of being far out on the water. Especially when sitting in the comfort of one’s vehicle during inclement weather with the wind blowing. 
This could well be the best entertainment venue in Blaine and one of its best-kept secrets. When the wind blows from the south, Drayton Harbor kicks up a pretty good fetch, and waves in the channel can be quite large, giving the audience in the safety of their vehicles the sense of being on a boat. It is great free entertainment. 
The experience is rather unique to this pier, as not many others have access for the public with their cars this far out from shore.
Richard Sturgill
Blaine

The Editor:
Blaine-Birch Bay Park and Recreation District 2 and Birch Bay Waterslides have teamed up to help Birch Bay and Blaine residents get their summer started. 
From now until June 30, full-time residents of these two communities can purchase day passes to the Birch Bay Waterslides for only $10. This offer is good any day the Waterslides are open until June 30. 
These specially priced tickets can only be purchased at the Birch Bay Activity Center between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Limit five tickets per day. Proof of residency is required of the adult and can be in the form of a driver’s license or state-issued identification card. For children under the age of 16, a parent must be present to make the purchase. 
Birch Bay Activity Center is located off Alderson Road at 7511 Gemini Street, Birch Bay.  Look for the Bay Horizon Park signs. If you need directions please contact us at 656-6416 or visit our website, blainebirchbayparkandrec.org. 
This is a great opportunity for local families to get outside and enjoy some exercise at a low rate. While you are at the activity center, check out the many programs and activities available this summer for both kids and adults.
We look forward to visiting with you at the Birch Bay activity center.
Heidi Holmes
Blaine-Birch Bay Park and 
Recreation District 2

The Editor:
I believe we can all agree on several things: We live in a scenic and beautiful area, our weather is favorable and we have a bright future.
All the folks that visit here for the first time find the area beautiful and think downtown is very charming. Blaine Harbor, it even sounds more appealing, that cannot be denied.
I also believe we all have the same dream, a more functional, thriving, family-friendly downtown. Remember how everyone was so against the roundabouts? Now they are an asset and allow smooth-flowing traffic.
You’re either going forward or backward. I like forward, and the costs will be far less than the rumors going around. You’ll make up the difference with increase tourism and a more robust and vibrant downtown by a long shot. 
Use up your old stock or business cards, then just reorder and add the small change. Or don’t bother, you can leave everything as is, and you’ll still get your mail, because they go mainly by 98230.
At least let’s get those highway signs changed; this will indeed help inform and direct; no doubt about it. Some councilmembers are quite negative, so what are they doing to help revitalize downtown, complain about something that is a good idea and will help. As heard in the media recently, “We’ve already tried that once and it failed; time to put it to bed.” Really, are you kidding? No, disappointingly not.
Like the downtown business climate, do you want to hurt it and put it to bed? Because that is in essence what you’re doing. Do you only try one time, and then give up? Sounds like defeatism to me. That kind of thinking isn’t what our town needs right now.
We need new thinkers and doers! We all love Blaine, but why not try and help an old friend out, rather than push it down. By voting against this, folks are actually voting against helping downtown succeed.
Bill Becht
Blaine

The Editor:
How about Blaine Nude Beach?
Korky Day
Vancouver, B.C.

The Editor:
My husband and I were very grateful to have your map of Blaine and Birch Bay with us yesterday, as we looked for an alternative route home to Bellingham from Semiahmoo. 
We were driving north on Bell Road, looking for Peace Portal Drive, but when we came to the likeliest intersection, there was no street sign. We had just crossed a railroad track, though, and it was shown on your map, so we knew we must be at Peace Portal. We made a right turn, and there was the sign directing us to I-5. 
Your map has much helpful detail that is missing in the Bellingham map we were using before.Will you please tell us where to get maps for Ferndale, Mt. Baker, and Point Roberts?
James and Tina Burnette
Bellingham
Ed. note: Maps are available at your local visitor’s center.

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