Aroundthe City

Published on Thu, Aug 17, 2006
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Around the City

Totally Chocolate to receive $550,000 loan
The council voted 5-0 to approve a loan from the Washington state office of Community Trade and Economic Development (CTED) to Totally Chocolate in the amount of $550,000 to help with the costs associated with moving to their new location at 2025 Sweet Road in Blaine.

Blaine city manager Gary Tomsic said similar loans have been used in the community by Nature’s Path Foods and the Port of Bellingham to do similar projects.

He also said that while the funds are channeled through the city, the loan is repaid directly to the state and the city is not obliged to repay any part of it.

“There’s no obligation on the part of the city, this is a tool that the state has available to businesses that I think helps out a lot and I think it’s a good program,” he said. “I hope we have a whole bunch of other businesses that would like to use it in the future because I think it would be good for the community.”

For more information about the CTED loan program, visit www.choosewashington.com.

Airport receives $50,000 loan to reimburse Carruthers family
The council voted 4-1 to approve a $50,000 loan for the Blaine municipal airport to be paid for through the city’s general reserve fund.
Blaine city manager Gary Tomsic said the money is needed after the city lost an appeal filed by the Carruthers family, of Blaine, over a piece land condemned for a municipal right-of-way.

Carruthers claimed the original interest rate set by a Whatcom County District court judge was too low. A Washington State Appeals Court judge agreed, setting the new interest rate to 12 percent.

“The purpose of this loan is to pay the difference on the interest between what the Whatcom County district court awarded and the Washington State Court of Appeals awarded,” Tomsic said. “The airport didn’t have that money to make a payment so they had to borrow from the general fund reserves.”

Council member John Liebert was the only member to vote no. Council members Jason Overstreet and Ken Ely were not present.

“I’m tired of voting over money for that airport,” Liebert said. “In the past, I have voted for the payment, but at sometime, there’s got to be an accountability here and there just doesn’t appear to be any.”

Blaine finance director Meredith Riley said the loan is scheduled for repayment within a 10-year period at an interest rate of 5.125 percent.
The total amount the city has loaned the airport through the general fund reserve is $334,160.

The council also agreed to meet at 7 p.m. August 21 at the senior center for a presentation of the Blaine airport final master plan.
The airport land use alternative committee’s final meeting will be 5:30 September 5 at the council chambers. For more information, call 332-8311.

BNSF railway line relocation
The city council approved the draft of a letter written by Tomsic in response to a question from Vancouver B.C. resident Paul LeMay about a possible realignment of Burlington Northern-Santa Fe railway between White Rock, B.C. and the city of Blaine.

The realignment being sought would move the railroad away from the coast to an inland route that would follow the truck border crossing.
In the letter, Tomsic states that although the rail line continues to present neighboring residents with problems such as noise and frequent delays, such a project would require a “very thorough analysis,” requiring the cooperation of state and federal government agencies, which could be difficult without formal action on the part of the B.C. provincial government.

The problem is exacerbated by increases in rail traffic combined with the siting of the VACIS x-ray inspection equipment near Bell Road at the south end of Blaine.

Until such an analysis is completed, it would be “impossible for the city to determine whether the benefits would outweigh the negative impacts to the community,” he said.

“At that point, the city of Blaine stands ready to fully participate with your government and ours in evaluating the possible realignment of the BNSF railway line through Blaine,” he said.

Truck route project
Businesses concerned about construction delays near the truck crossing may have the option of expediting their inconvenience if the Washington State Department of Transportation follows through with a proposal to begin construction work at night.

Public works director Steve Banham said in order to expedite the drilling, DOT has asked if they can start work after midnight to speed up production.

Council member Onyon expressed concerns about noise. Banham, however, said the noise would not be much louder than the average amount of traffic during those hours.

“It’s not a hammer or pile driving operation,” he said. “It’s a lot quieter than a train.”

Banham said he has scheduled a meeting at the end of 11th Street to meet with residents there and discuss that possibility.

“We’re working with businesses on 12th Street concerned about delays associated with pile driving which results in a delay in access to the businesses,” he said. “Our plan is to separate the business activity from the residential activity.”