Letters to the Editor
I was surprised to see the Blaine airport article featuring Gary Tomsic, city/airport manager (yes, he’s both) get so much press in the Bellingham Herald’s May 25 issue.
Our honorable mayor John Liebert, at the May 9 Blaine city council meeting, recommended a citizen’s committee to consider alternative economic uses for the 40 acres that is currently the airport. That went unmentioned by Mr. Tomsic. A small blurb regarding mayor Liebert’s statement was barely visible in The Northern Light’s May 19 issue. It didn’t even have its own headline.
Mayor Liebert feels we owe it to our community to see if there is another use of the land. Mr. Tomsic is apparently opposed, sighting a 30-plus year theory that the airport will someday not only begin to support itself, but also financially aid our community. I urge any Blaine taxpayer to request a copy of our current airport study. It cites countless maintenance and improvement recommendations to the existing airport. Record keeping has been slack over the years with some question marks in place of where accountability should be. So much more has to be acquired – more major land acquisition and street vacation. According to the study, one of our most recent parks, Skallman Park is even a wildlife hazard to aircraft and the recommendation is that it be removed.
Thank you, mayor Liebert, for coming to the aid of the taxpayers. The airport has been a private playground for too long.
One of the most crucial decisions facing policy-makers for the city of Blaine is currently being made under a blanket of almost total silence.
As of June 1, the Blaine planning commission conducted four “work sessions” on the subject of the proposed 70-unit Seagrass Cottages residential development, which would forever alter the character of the Semiahmoo spit, arguably Blaine’s most important scenic attraction. No further public comment is permitted.
This is the first time the public has been able to actually hear the opinions of their policy makers. And yet, though hundreds of Blaine residents attended the formal public hearing earlier this year, no more than half a dozen members of the public – plus the developer’s legal team – have attended any of these “work sessions.”
Not one of these vital sessions has been covered by any newspaper. The public is getting no unbiased reports of these deliberations, as important as they are.
As of June 1, no minutes had been produced from any of these work sessions. Though chairman Brad O’Neill promises minutes eventually will be made public, some of us wonder if it will be after the commission has made up its mind on everything. Without minutes, your only current option is to listen to the 12 hours of tape-recorded discussion at city hall.
Make no mistake about it – the decision on Seagrass Cottages is being made bit by bit by this seven-member commission in an atmosphere of almost total silence in our community.
The commission will send its decision to the Blaine city council to be ratified, perhaps by early July. The council is not required to schedule a public meeting when it takes up the issue of Seagrass Cottages.
I urge the citizens of Blaine to attend what may be the final planning commission work session on this project at city hall at 5:30 p.m. on June 15. If you do, I think you will begin to see why many of us think it’s absurd to try and reconcile a 20-year-old master plan with the realities of today.
In the work sessions, the commissioners constantly bump up against that old master plan, trying to decide if it should govern their decisions or not. At the June 1 meeting, for instance, the commission debated the developer’s plan to satisfy parking requirements by building a two-story parking garage outside the project. Does the master plan call for centralized parking shared by several projects or must the developer meet all parking requirements for his project within the project site? They don’t really know.
Why not let the citizens of Blaine decide the future of the spit themselves though a citywide referendum on the zoning that’s implicit in the master plan? To be sure, the land involved is in private ownership, but the zoning for any land in any city is subject to change if enough time has passed and the community at large has evolved in a different direction.
After reading in The Northern Light (May 19) that a few council members were reluctant to look at or discuss councilman Liebert’s proposal to establish a committee to consider other options for the Blaine airport property, saying things such as “It doesn’t look proper,” or “If we start looking at alternatives then we are sending the wrong message.” This, followed by the Bellingham Herald editorial on June 1, forced me to put pen to paper.
I guess I was mistakenly under the impression city council members and staff were supposed to look at alternatives, different view points and new ideas then make a decision based on what is best of the city and its taxpayers. I realize not everyone is going to agree with some decisions, but not to be open to look at alternatives seems to not be in the best interest of the city or its taxpayers.
For those who have forgotten, the city had to loan $300,000 out of its general fund to the airport to pay for a lost court case pertaining to cutting down trees. A bad decision by the judge, airport supporters say. No one believes this “loan” will ever be repaid and there is potential of further litigation concerning another section of trees and property. How much will this cost? Where will this money come from? Ask next time when the city raises water, sewer and electric bills to take money from the general fund and your pocket book.
Councilors, please have an open mind and form a committee to look into some possible alternatives for the airport property.
After reading the letter to the editor published last week in your newspaper, written by Patrick Quinlan from Portland, Maine (The U.S. Customs and Border Protection department at the Peace Arch crossing is engaged in racial profiling and police state tactics), I felt it appropriate to comment on Mr. Quinlan’s accusations.
I am a U.S. immigration attorney practicing in Blaine and have almost daily contact with the Peace Arch border crossing. Sometimes I attend the border with clients for routine visa issuances, other times with clients appearing for complex cases in front of federal judges at immigration court. Often my law practice involves assisting clients attempting to enter the U.S. after one or more prior denied entries.
Unlike Mr. Quinlan’s accusations of “racial profiling,” my practice does not reflect this argument. Many of our clients who have had immigration problems at the Peace Arch border crossing are not racial minorities. These clients would be delighted if, as Mr. Quinlan asserts, “hundreds of white people streamed effortlessly past the station and into the United States,” was true.
Moreover, while Mr. Quinlan notes that “every other group of individuals in the office included racial minorities,” it must be noted that many U.S. Customs and Border officers themselves are visible minorities. From my own observations, there are many officers with backgrounds from Asia, Africa and Latin America. In fact, I find it most helpful when attending the border with clients having limited English skills since frequently my client’s native language is spoken fluently by an officer present at the border.
Over the past few years I have witnessed firsthand the daily operations at the Peace Arch border crossing. While I do not always agree with all the decisions rendered by U.S. Customs and Border officers, I believe that the officers make fair and reasonable decisions based upon established laws and operating procedures.
Leonard D.M. Saunders,
attorney at law
The Northern Light welcomes letters to the editor; however, the opinions expressed are not those of the editor. Letters must include name, address and daytime telephone number for verification. Letters must not exceed 350 words and may be edited or rejected for reasons of legality, length and good taste. Thank-you letters should be limited to 10 names. A fresh viewpoint on matters of general interest to local readers will increase the likelihood of publication. Writers should avoid personal invective. Unsigned letters will not be accepted for publication. Requests for withholding names will be considered on an individual basis. Only one letter per month from an individual correspondent will be published.
send your letter to:
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The Northern Light welcomes letters to the editor; however, the opinions expressed are not those of the editor. Letters must include name, address and daytime telephone number for verification. Letters must not exceed 350 words and may be edited or rejected for reasons of legality, length and good taste. Thank you letters are limited to five individuals or groups. A fresh viewpoint on matters of general interest to local readers will increase the likelihood of publication. Writers should avoid personal invective. Unsigned letters will not be accepted for publication. Requests for withholding names will be considered on an individual basis. Only one letter per month from an individual correspondent will be published.
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