Officials anticipate 'boon' for local business
Blaine business owners may be salavating over the anticipation of additional traffic expected with the 2010 Olympics but city officials are still grappling with the best way to get cars off the freeway and into downtown.
In their regular meeting Monday, Blaine public works director Steve Banham said he met with Washington State Department of Transportation projects manager Todd Harris at last week's International Mobility and Trade Conference and that they are working together to pursue directional signage in an attempt to draw more freeway traffic through downtown and along Peace Portal Drive.
Banham proposed two "trailblazer" signs to repeat the message that motorists are on the right path to get to I-5. Those signs are proposed at the head of Peace Portal Drive near Seaside Bakery as well as on Peace Portal near Foreign Auto Clinic. Banham also said he is working to acquire additional signage on SR 543, also known as the truck route, as well as a possible gateway sign advertising the goods and services offered by Blaine businesses near the entrances to the community.
“We’re interested in trying to help the motoring public traveling southbound understand there is an alternative to getting right back onto the I-5,” he said. “The current signage doesn't clarify that.”
Onyon wanted to know if the city could create a “nice-looking” banner near the city’s north entrance as well as designate Peace Portal Drive as an “optional, scenic route” in an attempt to capture the attention of motorists at that decision point.
Banham said he would look into the idea but state transportation officials would likely require the message to be more concise. As for the banners, Banham said that may also prove difficult but he will revisit the issue.
Council revisits public restroom
City council members also discussed the possibility of constructing a new visitor center and public restrooms facility as the current center is open only during regular hours of Rick Greene’s Pizza Factory franchise, to which it is connected.
Councilmember Bonnie Onyon suggested asking the property owner to expand the current visitor center to add public restrooms.
Councilmember Jason Overstreet said during a family visit to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, he witnessed an outhouse disguised by a colorful shelter painted with celestial images and trees.
“It's a neat idea,” he said. “It’s basically an ADA accessible porto- potty, covered with the same wood beams you would see in a log-cabin home. It looked nice and it would obviously be the less expensive way to go. The question is, will people use it.”
Airport joke is no joke
Blaine airport commission chair Doug Fenton may have joked when he told city council he heard rumors the city wants to close the municipal airport but city manager Gary Tomsic said the city is serious about moving forward with the decision.
“There is a rumor around town that the council wants to close the airport and we want to do everything possible through our commission to prevent that,” Fenton said.
Tomsic, however, said the city is moving forward to have the nearly 40 acres of industriallyzoned land appraised this week.
Last year, officials said the Trillium Corporation had made an unofficial offer of $4 million – approximately the highest amount city officials had estimated it could cost to close the facility after paying back federal and state aviation grants and loans as well as settling lease terminations.
Whether the new property valuation assessment will be made public is yet to be decided by the city’s legal counsel, Tomsic said.
City to encourage Victoria’s sewage upgrades
Blaine mayor Bonnie Onyon said she will join the efforts of other, regional municipal leaders in urging the city of Victoria to install a secondary sewage treatment plant.
In their regular meeting Monday, the council voted 6-0 to approve Onyon’s request to have the city manager write a letter to various provincial leaders including premier Gordon Campbell and Alan Lowe, the city of Victoria’s mayor.
The city, located on Vancouver Island, has been disposing of its sewage by dumping 30 million gallons of raw, untreated into the Strait of Juan de Fuca each day since the early 1900s.
“Our state has spent a lot of money cleaning up our waters,” she said. “What they put into their water affects us down this way as well”