Downtown boardwalk: Drawings released, funds sought

Published on Thu, Aug 7, 2003 by Rebecca Schwarz Koph

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Downtown boardwalk: Drawings released, funds sought

By Rebecca Schwarz Koph

The City of Blaine community development department has released photo-realistic drawings of the downtown boardwalk and said it is now in the process of attaining funds.

The boardwalk is planned to be built along the western side of Peace Portal Drive, between H and G streets, and will be a total of 15,903 square feet.

�It�s estimated to cost about $1.5 million,� Galvin said, adding the city is seeking money from the Washington state department of community development to fund half of the cost. The other half would be paid for by hotel-motel funds. A back-up, Galvin said, should the city receive no money from the state department of community development, is to get a loan and then use the hotel-motel tax to pay the loan off.

�I�m pretty confident we can get a substantial amount of funding from a variety of grants,� Galvin said.�We�re hoping to have a completion date of late fall 2004.�

The projected schedule, Galvin said, is to complete the pre-construction planning and design by October 2003, and then complete construction of the two road-ends, called H Street park and G Street park, by March of 2004. Construction of the boardwalk section between H and G street parks should be finished by June of 2004.

When asked how the train affects the boardwalk concept, Galvin said the train is just another part of the visual. �It�s a part of the community�s heritage, it adds to the interest,� he said. �It is not going to obstruct your view of the water or of Semiahmoo Spit or of the marina. It�s an urban view, and one of the enjoyments of an urban view is the intensity.�

Future related work within the boardwalk project, which currently has no set plan or funding, is to build a railroad overpass that is essentially an extension of the H Street entrance. According to Galvin,the city vacated all of the railroad easements in 1909 to reserve the right to build overpasses.

�We don�t need the railroad�s permission to build an overpass,� he said. �This overpass will allow us to connect upper downtown with the marine area.�

The only area that will be affected by boardwalk construction is the veterans memorial at the end of G Street. The memorial may move to the Peace Arch State Park. Memorial representatives met with park manager Wayne Eden earlier this week to discuss a move.

The boardwalk project involves a committee of residents, business owners and city officials who have collectively provided input about the project.

�The board members have been a major force in the development of the boardwalk concept to it�s present design. Without their vision and dedication, this project would not be a reality. � Galvin said.

Mel Hollinger, a long-time resident and Blaine businessman, believes Blaine has never looked so good in the 64 years he has been here, and he is happy to sit on the boardwalk committee.

�We need something unusual, an interesting point to attract attention of tourists and locals. What better than something that shows off our marvelous marine views of the water, its background and the harbor?� he said. �With one of the finest, most outstanding marine views anywhere and one of the finest small boat harbors for pleasure and commercial fishing, we need to display it.�

Hollinger, who owns the building that formerly housed Hollinger Realty on Peace Portal Drive , said he is happy to give up some of his property to make this development possible for people to enjoy. Just south of his building will be the H Street entrance to the boardwalk.

When asked why he was involved with the boardwalk project, committee member Roger Ellingson said because he loves Blaine and wants to see the community grow.

�I believe it�s the best thing Blaine could do it for itself,� he said, adding that the boardwalk will not only bring visitors into the downtown area, but it will also draw the community together. �This is one of the most beautiful settings Blaine has. It�s just beautiful here.�

Committee member Brad O�Neill said he also wants to show off the marine views, but said he sits on the committee to ensure that while downtown growth occurs, the views will still be available for all to see.

�Everybody appreciates downtown vistas, but sometimes buildings shut out those vistas,� he said. �The answer to that is a boardwalk. It keeps the businesses and views together and this will truly be a pedestrian-orientated downtown core. It really is the future of Blaine. Very few cities have this kind of opportunity.�