Development board brings blend of expertise

Group will guide waterfront, city projects


Photo by Paul Moore

Bellingham City Council members greet five of the seven Bellingham Public Development Authority board members at the July 21 City Council meeting.


The city of Bellingham has assembled the seven captains who will lead the city in its development charge for the foreseeable future.

On July 18, Mayor Dan Pike announced his selections for the first board of directors for the Bellingham Public Development Authority (BPDA), a new public corporation formed to provide expertise and leadership to the waterfront redevelopment, downtown and other city-owned properties.

Pike said his main priority was to assemble a diverse group with business, finance, technical expertise and experience with LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), also known as “green building.”

“I wanted some folks who had an understanding of how to develop a vision but also of how to implement that vision,” Pike said.

The BPDA board of directors was formally appointed during a City Council meeting on July 21 and Pike said he was pleased to see they had a good rapport with one another .

“This first board is critical to getting the framework of PDA going,” Pike said. “Later boards will evolve and implement that framework.”

Pike said the board members are all accomplished in their own fields and he is confident they will develop a positive working environment.

“I hope they see each other as peers and feed off each other’s strengths,” Pike said.

Pike staggered the terms of the new board members but said many if not all will be reappointed after their terms expire. Pike said the board will eventually choose its own president but for the first meetings, he has tapped former Bellingham Mayor Ken Hertz to be the interim board president.


Ken Hertz

Three-year term expiring July 2011.

Occupation: Real estate management and development, co-owner of Blossom Management Corp.

Professional/Community Activities: Former mayor of Bellingham, former Whatcom County parks director, former Peoples Bank board member, former Trillium Corp. executive.

“Ken is such a no-nonsense guy and he has a great understanding of development and the city from being a former mayor,” Pike said.

Hertz is no stranger to public service or development.

After his years of public service as Whatcom County parks director and mayor and extensive experience working on Trillium’s national and international real estate development projects, Hertz said he is eager to help establish master plans for Bellingham’s waterfront properties and elsewhere.

“I am excited to see some of these projects come to fruition,” Hertz said.

Hertz said he thinks his development experience will assist the board, particularly his attention to aesthetics.

“We need to look seriously at whatever we do [on the waterfront] because it is going to be with us for at least the next 50 years if not the next 100 years,” Hertz said. “So we need to make sure everything is done properly.”


Brian Steele

Three-year term expiring July 2011.

Occupation: Licensed engineering geologist.

Professional/Community Activities: Co-owner of Materials Testing & Consulting Inc.

Steele has lived in Bellingham for the past 16 years and he loves Bellingham’s parks and trails. He said his geological consulting experience has exposed him to regional developers, architects, engineers, the Port of Bellingham and Western Washington University.

“I think my experience working with the major players is going to have a great benefit to the PDA,” Steele said.

Steele said he would like to see a vibrant economic setting on the waterfront with a mix of commercial, residential, light-industrial and mixed-use development.

Steele said Bellingham has a natural beauty and any successful Bellingham redevelopment will reflect that.

“I would really like to us build within the character of that beauty,” Steele said. “I have a stake in seeing that this is done right and done well,” he said.


Chris Webb

Four-year term expiring July 2012.

Occupation: Civil engineer, owner of Chris Webb & Associates Inc.

Professional/Community Activities: Sustainable Connections board president, pro bono engineering work for community groups, Engineers Without Borders USA volunteer.

Webb has been a civil engineer for 15 years, 13 of them in Bellingham doing environmental civil engineering.

Webb said his experience working toward sustainable infrastructure development across the state and the country gives him a unique insight to the possibilities on Bellingham’s waterfront.

“I want to bring what I saw regionally to bear here in Bellingham,” Webb said.

Webb said his experience as board president for Sustainable Connections will help him work well with others while completing complex projects.

“I see it as a huge opportunity and I am honored to have been selected,” Webb said.


Scot Barg

Two-year term expiring July 2010.

Occupation: Management consultant for Booz Allen Hamilton.

Professional/Community Activities: Bellingham Bay Foundation board member, Society of Competitive Intelligence Professionals member.

Barg said the BPDA is an exciting opportunity to set a precedent for more sophisticated developments in Bellingham.

Barg has been an active participant in Bellingham waterfront planning process since he moved to Bellingham in 2003 and he said the creation of a PDA lets the city do its job, while the PDA focuses closely on city development.

Barg said his combination of cost-benefit analysis experience and waterfront participation will assist the board through what he called “an unprecedented opportunity.”

“Cities don’t get this opportunity really ever,” Barg said. “Most development on waterfronts is still there.”

Barg said with this new board, there will be a mix of curiosity, enthusiasm and scrutiny.

“It’s something new and people will be curious about how it works,” Barg said. “And a lot of people will be watching to see how we work together.”


Bruce MacCormack

Two-year term expiring July 2010.

Occupation: Chairman, Bellingham Angel Group; Principal, Cascadia Consulting LLC; Retired senior adviser, IBM Corporation.

Professional/Community Activities: Bellingham/Whatcom Economic Development Council board member, Whatcom Museum board member and vice-president for operations.

MacCormack has more than 40 years of senior corporate and general-management experience spanning Europe and North America.

He has established his own local business, Cascadia Consulting Services and supported new-business development with the local economic development council.

MacCormack said his considerable board experience will help the board convert a waterfront vision into realistic outcomes.

“This is a momentous opportunity for the city, the Port of Bellingham, Western Washington University and the arts district to combine together with public input to realize a sustainable waterfront redevelopment vision that will benefit Bellingham for generations to come,” MacCormack said.


Heather Wolf

Four-year term expiring July 2012.

Occupation: Land-use and real estate attorney, partner with Brownlie Evans Wolf & Lee.

Professional/Community Activities: Downtown Renaissance Network board member, Whatcom County Bar Association member, Whatcom Women Lawyers member.

Wolf has been working as a Bellingham land-use attorney in both the public and private sectors for the past 11 years.

Wolf said she is particularly excited about spurring development on the waterfront.

“This is the biggest project that Bellingham has had or could have,” Wolf said. “So being a part of it is very exciting.”

Wolf said her experience and general interest in urban redevelopment will assist the board as it gets started but she realizes a lot of the ground work has been laid by the Port of Bellingham, the Bellingham Planning Commission and the Waterfront Advisory Group.

“So we are going to have all that background going into it, which I think will be helpful,” Wolf said.


Rud Browne

One-year term expiring July 2009.

Occupation: Founder and chairman of the Ryzex Group.

Professional/Community Activities: Former chairman for Washington and Alaska chapters of Young Presidents’ Organization; former Brigid Collins Family Support Center board member; former Whatcom Community Foundation board member; Rotary Club member; Whatcom County Ethics Commission member.

Rud Browne could not be reached for an interview.

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