Challenges and Opportunities
By Gary Tomsic, City Manager
2004 has been an extremely busy and productive year for the city of Blaine. The major issue in the city continues to be the siting and construction of a new water reclamation facility on Marine Drive. During this past year, the city council and the Citizens Wastewater Advisory Committee (CWAC) completed a comprehensive review leading to a decision to site the plant along Marine Drive. They also settled on a preferred treatment alternative. The milestone product of this work was the completion of the city’s Comprehensive Wastewater Treatment Plan. The first phase of construction will begin in 2005.
Another major accomplishment was the completion of the design and development of construction drawings for the boardwalk. The city received approval of a combined grant and loan package from Whatcom County’s Economic Development Initiative program to fund the majority of the construction cost. The project was to have been bid during the fall. Because of issues related to securing an easement from one property owner, the project will now be delayed until spring of 2005.
Development activity in the city has increased steadily over the last three years. For the past several years, most of the growth has been ‘infill’ of individual lots scattered around the city. During 2004, we started receiving proposals for larger subdivision type developments.
Another good sign has been the increase in interest in our downtown business district. Over the past year, we have seen extensive movement in real estate and serious interest in mixed use development in the downtown core.
This overwhelming interest in our downtown led to the city hosting a three-day charrette at which local business leaders and others discussed their vision for the downtown areas and came up with an outstanding plan which will guide the growth and development of our commercial, retail and residential development in the downtown area.
On the infrastructure side, the city completed a $4 million upgrade to the electric distribution system. The Semiahmoo feeder provided a new main electric feeder line into Semiahmoo Drive from the substation in Blaine. This project will provide both reliability and capacity of our electric system in this part of the city.
The public work’s department completed another round of street paving projects in the lettered streets.
Two important airport projects that were completed this year include the removal of tree obstructions on both the north and south ends of the airport. In addition, the city received a grant to begin the development of an FAA master plan for the airport.
The city council approved a comprehensive plan, which was developed by the city’s parks and cemetery commission and the community development office.
Finally, the city said goodbye to long-time city clerk Shirley Thorsteinson and replaced her with Sheri Sanchez.