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On Monday, April 20, in a poorly publicized mid-day meeting, the Bellingham City Council and the Port of Bellingham Commission voted to accept a framework plan for the Bellingham waterfront that details the basis for a new street grid configuration and assumptions for the waterfront master plan. It also assumes the destruction of numerous historic buildings on the site. This was done with very short notice, in a rare mid-day meeting, WITH NO PUBLIC COMMENT ALLOWED. None of the materials were available to the public ahead of time.

The councils decided that they would ask the public later what we think of this plan. This decision can only be reversed by a vote of both councils, so it is virtually set in stone.

Is this how waterfront planning will now proceed? Vote now, ask the public later? What does this mean for other controversial decisions that the city council must make, such as Lake Whatcom planning or new shoreline rules? Will the council start voting first and asking questions later?

Regardless of whether you like the new plan, how do you feel about the process? Does this action encourage your involvement and make you feel that your voice is important or perhaps that your involvement is not really desired? If you think something is wrong with this approach, please come to the following meetings and send a message LOUD and CLEAR that public decision making processes require public input BEFORE council votes.

Bellingham City Council: Monday April 27, 7 pm open session
Waterfront Open House, Wednesday April 29, 6:30 Bellingham, Cruise Terminal
Port Commission Meeting, Tuesday May 5, 3:00 pm, Harbor Center Conference Room, 1801 Roeder Avenue
Questions? Contact Robyn du Pré, RE Sources, 733-8307,

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Comment by David MacLeod on April 27, 2009 at 12:31pm

Thank you for posting this. I looked up 'Bellingham' in my dictionary, and it said "a seaport town in NW Washington." With peak oil looming upon us, we may want to consider using our port as a port. Moving freight via shipping is, I believe, one of the most efficient means. Using new technologies such as kite assist, vastly increases that efficiency. The Sail Transport Network could perhaps include stops in Bellingham. Anyway, I ramble.

A very interesting Gristle column in the most recent Cascadia Weekly:

Flat Earth
FLAT EARTH: In 280 B.C., the legendary ruler of a kingdom along the Ionian Coast met the legions of Rome and overcame them; yet, in victory this king suffered such destruction to his armies that, in the words of Plutarch, victory had utterly unmade him. His name, Pyrrhus, came to describe a victory with bitter cost to the victor. And while “victory that is no victory” might describe the decision this week by Bellingham City Council and Port of Bellingham commissioners to move swiftly ahead on waterfront planning in the midst of a global repositioning of assumptions about economies, resources and even the future roles of government and public-private partnerships, no, the Gristle’s thinking more of the naming of a thing that brings no honor to the person named...

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