Letters to the Editor
I must reply to two letters in the August 11-17 issue of The Northern Light. In one, the writer objects to the funding of Blaine airport ‘for the benefit of 12 big boys and their toys.’ I drive by the airport frequently and I see no evidence of expensive toys.
Most general aviation pilots are not rich ‘big boys.’ Many used airplanes cost less than a new car or a used late-model SUV. The perception that flying is exclusive to the rich is simply not true. Virtually anyone with a decent job can enjoy flying, and used aircraft are within the reach of those of even modest means.
The writer suggests that the airport be closed and the land be ‘used as an industrial park to bring much needed jobs’ to Blaine. From what I can see, there is a great deal of unused capacity in Blaine as it is. Why close an active airport whilst other places lie dormant? A properly managed airport benefits a community and can create jobs.
Another writer wrings her hands over the possibility of airplanes crashing. Airplane crashes are very rare. That’s why they’re news. Although I haven’t been flying in a number of years, I can honestly say that I feel more safe in a light aircraft than I do on my motorcycle – and I feel quite safe on my motorcycle. Yes, airplanes occasionally crash. Yes, sometimes people die. But according to the Nall Report most accidents are not fatal and safety is increasing every year.
The writer claims that ‘smaller airports, especially without a tower, are dangerous.’ Most airports in this country do not have towers. Pilots are trained to use them, and they are not especially dangerous. She claims ‘Sunday pilots will gravitate towards small airports, as most of these pilots don’t want to deal with tower control as it requires more attention, work and experience.’ Not true. All pilots are trained to communicate with a tower. Most pilots I’ve spoken with prefer control towers. She seems to have a negative perception of ‘Sunday pilots.’ All pilots must undergo many hours of training in order to get their licenses, and all must pass oral, written and practical examinations. This is not like getting a driver’s license, folks! In addition all pilots must undergo a biennial flight review in order to maintain their licenses. We take our flying very seriously. It takes dedication to earn a license, and safety is paramount.
The problem as I see it is that people don’t understand airplanes. They are a mystery to people who have not taken the time to learn about them. Airplanes do not just fall out of the sky, and the things you see in the movies are often ludicrous to pilots. I think that before condemning general aviation people should visit GA Serving America (www.gaservingamerica.org/) and learn more about that which they condemn. Or visit Be A Pilot (www.beapilot. com/indexfl.html) to learn how to get an introductory lesson for only $49. An instructor can answer any questions you may have.
On Monday, August 22, Blaine city council is expected to announce its decision on the application to build Seagrass Cottages on the spit at Semiahmoo. Their decision will no doubt take into consideration the recommendation to deny this application, both contained in the city’s own staff report and additionally provided by the planning commission, who spent many hours considering this application, including information provided at three public hearings.
I hope all those people who have expressed interest in this application will attend this meeting and encourage the council to follow these recommendations and deny the application. While, I am sure there will be further applications by the developer, perhaps we will eventually arrive at a solution, which will allow us to better shape the way this precious piece of land is used.
I have always understood that the developer purchased the right to build on the spit some 20 years ago and that he is entitled to a return on his investment. But, so much has changed with environmental issues and there has been so much building on previously undeveloped land in this area, since that time (and much more is planned) that I hope a better solution can be found than walls of housing and a two-level parking lot.
In my opinion, Blaine needs the spit to continue to attract visitors to this area and migrating birds certainly need it, so it would be most unfortunate to see it completely covered with housing.
Please attend the council meeting at the city hall at 7 p.m. on August 22.
I am responding to the letter from Nicole McCaig in your August 11 edition.
The accident in Renton was indeed tragic, but a knee-jerk reaction to close the airport is not a reasonable solution. People die on our highways every day, but we do not close highways to prevent accidents; we educate drivers and enforce traffic laws to attempt to reduce their frequency and severity. Crashes resulting from mid-air collisions can occur anywhere and there is no evidence to indicate that this one would not have happened if the Renton airport had been closed.
Indeed, I have seen nothing to indicate that either aircraft was in the Renton traffic pattern, but the fact that it was nearby probably saved the lives of those aboard the second aircraft.
Smaller airports, with their decreased traffic volume and predominantly similar aircraft speeds, are actually as safe or safer than larger airports, even those with tower control. Controllers as well as pilots make mistakes that contribute to accidents. Even very experienced and skilled pilots flying smaller aircraft would prefer to fly from airports where they do not have to share the runway with faster, heavier jet aircraft.
I continue to be amazed at people who wish to destroy an essential transportation facility that has cost Blaine taxpayers very little compared with its benefit to the city, the state and the nation as a whole.
There may be some valid arguments in favor of closing our airport (although I’m not aware of any) but an isolated accident caused by a mid-air collision over Renton is certainly not one of them.
Ken Imus was covered pretty well in the article in The Northern Light. But I might serve to remind us all that it was really Joel Douglas who led the way in Fairhaven, selling several choice parcels to Mr. Imus. In fact, it would be a good wager that the same thing might be the result in Blaine.
Joel Douglas acquired three sites in Blaine over the past couple of years – including The Palisades, along Peace Portal Drive. Each of them is presently being stalled by planning issues, owing to intractable behavior on the part of a couple of city officials. In the eyes of these officials, that “network of developers” is more like a panoply from which they pick and choose whomever they wish to be nice to!
I hope readers don’t for a moment think that the level playing field of economic development – which American democracy purports to afford – can ever arise out of such snootiness!
Some of the recent letters opposing the airport – characterized by emotional appeals and inaccurate claims about everything from dollar amounts to the number of supposedly old growth trees cut down (none were old-growth) – have been off the mark.
If the FAA approves the master plan, they will grant $12 to 16 million out of a fund generated by taxes on aviation activities to upgrade and improve the airport to corporate and modern standards. This grant is limited to 95 percent of the necessary funding for an airport improvement project. The remaining 5 percent is split between the city and the state. Since the city has already expended its share in purchasing the property with the trees, there will be no further expense to Blaine connected with this project – we won’t have to spend a dime more.
To close the airport will cost an estimated $2.5 to 3.5 million. The state has a law against closing airports and will fight the city (including lawsuits) in this regard.
The master plan is a good one. The runway will be lengthened to 3,200 feet, moved south and widened. The airport infrastructure will be enhanced to accommodate corporate and personal aircraft. A GPS-type instrument approach system will be installed to facilitate safer landings and take-offs in inclement weather – virtually assuring 365-day operational capability.
Businesses prefer to move into an area that has an airport. Their checklist for a community usually reflects this requirement. Enhancement of the airport will serve as a magnet for corporations and businesses and will bring jobs to our community.
It’s been suggested that a truck stop be installed in place of the airport. A truck stop will probably bring undesirable elements, noise and pollution. It won’t bring wealth because the wealth ferried by trucks will just pass through.
Twenty miles down the freeway is an airport at Bellingham. Bellingham’s airport, while not far away, will attract viable businesses to Bellingham, not Blaine. There’s a good chance the border patrol will be attracted back to and operate out of Blaine’s airport if it’s appropriate for them. And it will, if we adhere to the master plan. That would represent several family wage jobs to be located here.
Having a good, viable, economically sound airport can only benefit this community for a long, long time, as it has Friday Harbor, Eastsound, Mount Vernon, Burlington and many other similar communities.
We need our airport – it can become a valuable asset. We need to calm down and speak to one another with respect and hope that a decision based on facts is reached.
Mike Myers, Blaine city council
Last Saturday, we (A Better Pet Dog Training & Boarding) participated in the auction to benefit the Blaine Boys and Girls Club. We donated some private dog training lessons and a week of boarding at our facility in Custer.
We were also there to present a Labradoodle named Marshall who was donated as a live auction item. One of your staff was there taking pictures, and took a couple of Marshall. I wanted to clarify some information on this donation. The auction program listed “A Better Pet” as donating the dog. Marshall was actually donated by a local breeder, (myself), Primetime Labradoodles in Bellingham.
(I have) been in business for quite a few years, and has an excellent reputation. These dogs retail for $2,500 each, and I wanted to ensure credit for this generous donation was given.
Dorothy Moreau, Primetime Labradoodles
Thank you to the person, or persons, responsible for the cleaning up of the Blaine school facilities. For a period of time the area was completely overgrown with weeds and was an eyesore for those driving down H Street. Now the landscape is free from weeds and the mulch has been replaced giving the appearance of the area being cared for.
Orchids to the lady who takes care of all the planted areas downtown. She does incredible work! Next time you see her, thank her for making the town look so beautiful.
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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