Port and city's waterfront framework plan shows promise

    The Port of Bellingham and City of Bellingham’s new draft framework plan for the New Whatcom waterfront redevelopment area, initially unveiled to the public at at Sept. 26 open house at the Mount Baker studio theatre, is impressive in scope and depth. The framework does a good job juggling the many demands placed on the site from the legion of often competitve factions, each of which is seeking to put its own stamp on the mega-project.
   The picture of what will eventually occupy the 220 acres of prime waterfront territory is finally beginning to coalesce. "It might be X" or "It might be Y" has been replaced with a more definite list of priorities and probable invitees.
   It seems clear, for example, that WWU will have a significant presence in the area when all is said and done, with Huxley College seeming to be the top choice to move down to the water.
   Downtown retailers are breathing a little eaiser to hear that the plan calls for little retail, as planners want to keep the city’s retail focus on the increasingly shopper-friendly downtown core.
   The TerrAquarium project also remains a player in the mix, as is a Marine Trade Center concept for the G-P Tissue Warehouse, when or if the company vacated its Bellingham facility altogether.
   The concepts are great. The finances are worrisome.
   Too much of the estimated $1.2 billion overall cost is being thrown into the general "from private investment" category.
   Initial estimations show only about 10 percent of the total bill will come from state and federal grants, and since no group ever gets all the grants they hope for, presumably any shortfall would be passed on again into the "private investment" category.
   Of course, these are all initial projections; but assuming that $880 million of the pricetag for this cleanup is going to come from the private sector is, in our opinion, a worrisome percentage that bears watching.

‘Newcomer’ = They came here after I did

   A Modest Proposal for the Assimilation of Newcomers to Bellingham (Including Californians, and Other Undesirables)

   It is a melancholy experience to walk the streets of Bellingham or travel in the county of Whatcom and witness the erection of condominiums, the burgeoning of upscale commercial enterprises, the demise of locally run establishments, and wanton deforestation to make way for new urban development.
   It is disturbing to witness the poor beggars crowding Railroad Avenue, all in rags and importuning every passerby for alms. Rather than pursue an honest livelihood, these urchins are forced to spend all their time and effort securing funds for skinny double-shot no-foam lattes.
   I think we can all agree that the frequent arrival of newcomers to our pristine locale lies at the root of these various problems. Solutions proposed by our esteemed city council and various alarmed citizens have failed to stem this influx. I propose a strategy that I believe that all, even the staunchest of social policy critics, can accept without reserve.
   First, it is important to define the term ‘newcomer.’ Our fair city’s long history of accepting immigrants, not to mention the author’s own recent arrival, makes this definition problematic.
   It must include all manner of races, nationalities, and creeds, in order to reflect the city’s historic character. Newcomers, for the sake of my proposal, will be defined as “any person having arrived after I did.” The utility of this definition will become clear when it is applied in a generalized fashion.
   Every citizen may use this definition, thus providing a simple, yet effective means of identifying society’s troublesome elements.
   Having crystallized the nature of the problem, and pinpointed its cause, I now propose a humble solution. Let each citizen of this good city be supplied with a modest firearm and ammunition, with which to actively defend our border against further incursion.
   Citizen patrols could form a nigh impenetrable barrier to those who would foul our pristine waters.
   Of course, it must be conceded that this perimeter will occasionally be breached. I submit that any who succeed will have demonstrated qualities admirable enough to be embraced by the citizenry. They shall be granted full citizenship, to include all rights and responsibilities, and a firearm.
(With apologies to Jonathan Swift)

— Jim Kling

Off Beat
by Rik Dalvit

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