Blaineunveils early plan for Blaine Harbor

Published on Thu, Nov 23, 2006 by ara Nelson

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Blaine unveils early plan for Blaine Harbor

By Tara Nelson

Better access, pedestrian walkways and more mixed uses are some of the improvements that visitors to Blaine’s harbor can expect in upcoming years.

At a special meeting for Marine Drive tenants Thursday, Blaine city staff and Port of Bellingham officials unveiled a preliminary master plan concept for the redevelopment of Marine Drive that included zoning amendments to allow mixed use residential in some areas, more open spaces and bike paths, and the construction of a pedestrian bridge that would connect Blaine’s boardwalk to a future park near the boat launch at the end of Milhollin Drive.

“What we’re trying to do is design the harbor area in a way that will enhance Blaine’s downtown,” said Sylvia Goodwin, a planning and development director for the Port of Bellingham.

Other plans will include the realignment of the parking lot at Marine Park to better utilize views, improved signage near the access point at Marine Drive and Peace Portal Drive, and more commercial development near the end of the peninsula.

Blaine community development director Terry Galvin said the plan would help join Blaine’s wharf district as an extension of its downtown and create a zoning that would allow for more flexible uses to help revitalize that area.

“We need to start looking at the wharf and the downtown area as two parts of a whole,” he said, adding that adding residential uses could help bring people to the area. “Commercial activity –whether it’s water dependent or not — is just not going to happen unless you have people.”

Several audience members such as Jan Hrutfiord expressed concern about keeping the pier at the end of Marine Drive open to vehicle traffic.

“Going out to the end of the pier was something I would do with my family as a little girl to wait for my father’s boat to come in,” she said. “If you take that away, that’s part of Blaine’s ambiance.”

Goodwin said the pier is in need of repairs and the port had looked into closing the end of it to vehicles.

“There are many people who feel strongly about driving out there,” she said. “But it’s still too early for us to say because we’re still working on it. We’re still working all those details out.”

Galvin said the city has planned a series of meetings to gather public input on the plan duringfirst two weeks of January, he said. For more information, call 332-8311.