Input sought at January open houses

   Transforming words on a page into drawings on a map is one of the next stages in the Port of Bellingham’s waterfront redevelopment project.
   During November the community reviewed and commented on a set of draft guidelines designed to provide overarching goals for the project.
   These guidelines were written by CollinsWoerman, a consulting firm out of Seattle that has been involved in many noted redevelopment projects. CollinsWoerman is known for applying marketplace realities to redevelopment visions to ensure a foundation is in place to generate success.
   The draft guidelines addressed issues around transportation connections, the need to move ahead while the economy is strong, the value of environmentalism, the importance of creating walkable destinations and the necessity of strong strategic partnerships.
   After more than 250 people took part in workshops on the guidelines, as well as meetings with the citizen-led Waterfront Advisory Group, the Bellingham Planning Commission, the Bellingham City Council and the Port Commission, the decision was made to return to an earlier set of guidelines that were written by the Waterfront Futures Group.
   During November, some people commented that the CollinsWoerman guidelines strayed too far from the Waterfront Futures Group’s efforts, or seemed to encourage growth or transportation connections that weren’t what the community wanted.
   The City Council and Port Commission asked staff to take the Waterfront Futures Group Guiding Principles and add some elements of the CollinsWoerman guidelines to them. These combined guidelines will be available for review by January.
   Meanwhile, work is under way to begin applying these concepts to site designs that will be shared with the community in a series of public open houses on Jan. 24 and 31. If you can attend no other meetings on this project, make a point of attending these where you will get a chance to review and comment on drawings showing how the redevelopment could take place.
   Business people frequently comment that they are too busy to attend public meetings. But it is important that the Port and the City hear from all sectors of our community so that we can design a development that works for everyone.
   That is why in early December, workshops even were held with high school students, as well as the general community, where they were able to craft their own site designs based upon community guidelines taking shape. In addition, smaller stakeholder group meetings have occurred and will continue to occur during the project.
   The consultants creating the site designs are LMN Architects out of Seattle. The firm has a solid reputation of taking community ideas and transforming them into designs and master plans that move them toward reality.
   Here are a few comments from LMN about their philosophy in doing this type of work:
   “LMN staff have led many innovative urban design projects including downtown plans, park master plans, streetscape designs, transit-oriented development, and design guidelines. We value the involvement of the public in the planning process. Our planning work reflects sensitivity toward community context and environmental conditions, as well as recommendations from market research.”
   Now is the time for everyone in every sector to learn about the planning that is under way. Decisions made during the next few months will govern what occurs on the waterfront for the next 20 years. Come to a meeting, invite the Port to come and talk to your business or community group or visit the project Web sites.
   The City and Port master planning for New Whatcom is underway now. Numerous public meetings will be occurring and lots of information is available.
   To find out more, please visit the project Web site at or the Port’s Web site The Port is happy to provide speakers for community groups to tell them more about this project. If you are interested, contact Carolyn Casey at 360-676-2500.

Carolyn Casey is the communications manager for the Port of Bellingham.


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