Districtmeetings aim to preserve recreation area

Published on Thu, Mar 15, 2007 by Jack Kintner

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District meetings aim to preserve recreation area

By Jack Kintner

Northwest Park and Recreation District (NWPRD) commissioners held the first of several meetings aimed at generating ideas from its constituency Tuesday night at the Blaine library.

The five NWPRD commissioners want residents to let the board know which recreational opportunities they’d like to see added or enhanced, and what natural areas should be preserved.

The district covers the same area as the Blaine school district without Point Roberts, which has its own park and recreation district.

One thing that came through clearly in the free-ranging round table-style discussion at Tuesday’s meeting was the importance of responding to the area’s strong growth in order to minimize the ways it could compromise the quality of life that draws people here in the first place. About a half dozen residents attended the meeting.

Morris, who is NWPRD board president, said that two primary ways in which this happens are the lack of sufficient recreational facilities as the region’s population grows, and the loss of natural sites and habitat.

“This area grew 87 percent from 1990 to 2000,” Morris said, “and we can see how the things that help make this a place people like to visit and live in start to dribble away, slowly at first but before you know it they’re gone. If you think about what you want to have here in 20, 50 or 100 years then we hope to use the NWPRD as a way to help get there.”
Realtor and board member Jeri Smith said a comprehensive, area-wide approach works well for developers interested in finding projects to invest in as a way of enhancing the appeal of their developments.

“These people want to cooperate with someone because they know that a park or a bike trail through their land enhances its value, and for that to work it has to be more than piece-meal.

“You’d be surprised at how many call me about this.”

The meeting included Jim Kenoyer from the Blaine school district, whose recreational facilities are heavily used by outside groups, and Mike McFarlane, director of Whatcom County parks.

When asked why another funding agency is necessary, Morris said that as with a fire district or school district, the NWPRD is able to go after sources of funding and provide long-term stability that otherwise might be lacking.

“It all boils down to whether or not people will be willing to support an agency dedicated to helping preserve those things that keep us all interested in being here,” Morris said, “and we think they will be, and enthusiastically so. We’re not competing with the others because we’ll bring in funding from grants and working partnerships with other agencies that otherwise probably wouldn’t happen.”

As an example, Morris pointed out that a developer has offered NWPRD an eight-acre parcel that connects Maple Street with Harborview Drive. “It’s perfect for a bike trail connecting an area near the waterslides with a public beach while avoiding the Harborview and Birch Bay Drive intersection, but we couldn’t have accepted it without [McFarlane’s] help and that of the county parks.”

Three of the five commissioners have long-term roots in the area. Betty Robertson, board treasurer, and Smith, vice president, both grew up in Birch Bay.

Patrick Alesse has lived in the area for over 40 years as a teacher in the Blaine school district as well as the owner and operator of Birch Bay’s C Shop along with his wife Pat.

Red Goodwin has a long history in local amateur youth sports, and Morris, board president, has worked in area parks for many years, becoming manager at Birch Bay State Park in 1998.

Three more meetings with short presentations and open discussions have been scheduled: Saturday, March 17 at 2 p.m. at the Blaine Library, and Tuesday, March 20 at 7 p.m. and Saturday, March 24 at 10 a.m. both at the Birch Bay Bible Community Church, 7039 Jackson Road in Birch Bay.

For more information call Morris at 371-5139.