The city of Blaine was recently presented with an award from governor Jay Inslee’s office, recognizing the city’s efforts to engage its residents in key decisions about proposed projects and programs.
At the October 14 city council meeting, Valerie Smith, a senior planner with the Washington State Department of Commerce, presented the Smart Choices Award to Blaine city manager Michael Jones and other city leaders.
“In selecting the awards, the Department of Commerce’s Growth Management Services staff worked with a panel of volunteer judges to select the projects with the most scalability as model examples for other communities,” said Smith in her remarks. “The program recognizes achievements by local leaders who promote smart growth planning and projects that contribute to thriving communities, a prosperous economy and sustainable infrastructure in Washington state.”
Specifically, the governor’s award recognizes Blaine’s Strategic Economic Initiative (SEI), which was an effort by city staff to identify funding priorities for proposed citywide projects and programs. During a fact-gathering process, hundreds of Blaine residents responded to a 38-question survey, helping the city determine priorities and action items.
The SEI was guided by city staff and Tom Beckwith of La Conner-based Beckwith Consulting. As a result of the SEI, the city prioritized the enforcement of building codes, proceeded to demolish vacant and derelict buildings deemed unsafe, encouraged new business and development in east Blaine and sold property from the Gateway parcel, the old municipal airport site.
Other steps included the approval of a Transportation Benefit District and the opening of a new downtown welcome center with public bathrooms. Overall, the SEI identified six strategic objectives, including 43 specific action tasks, lead participants, schedules and performance measures.