Non-motorized trails favored for parks district

Published on Thu, Apr 17, 2008 by Sonia Hurt

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Non-motorized trails favored for parks district

By Sonia Hurt

The Northwest Park and Recreation District meeting held March 29 at Semiahmoo County Park drew an enthusiastic crowd eager to share their concerns and interests with the NWPRD Commissioners.

The last of five community meetings to discuss future recreational facilities and activities for Blaine and Birch Bay had over 30 people including twenty-somethings, young parents just starting their families and born-and-raised-in-Blaine seniors. The audience also included six Blaine parks & cemetery board members.

Commissioner Ted Morris, who guided the meeting, said “In two hours we’d like to assess our direction and gather ideas as raw material for a master plan that will tie us into the general community plans for the area in terms of facilities such as sports fields, trails and other elements.

This will help do two things, to leverage support from granting agencies for projects and to coordinate our efforts as a community to get more bang for the buck, to help various groups work together on large projects that may benefit a variety of users.”

According to Morris, one topic was consistently at the top of the list at each public meeting: Non-motorized trails that would join Blaine and Birch Bay. Although the reasons varied from school children getting safely to school to good old exercise, there was a clear consensus. In a tie for second place were public sports/recreation areas and aquatic related activities.

There was no shortage of ideas at this particular meeting. The long list included after-school programs, swimming lessons, recreation areas designed for seniors, nature outings, skate parks, arts and crafts classes, cooking classes, geocaching, beach parties, dances and movie nights. Also discussed were revitalizing the recreation assets that already exist such as Lincoln Park and Bay Horizon Park. There was also strong agreement among the group that the Blaine and Birch Bay aquatic resources needed to be incorporated in the program. Several attendees volunteered their services for various activities.

Now that the public input has been gathered, NWPRD will publish its RFP (request for proposals) within the next week for a consultant to prepare a master plan. During this time a final budget will also be developed for the anticipated revenues, which are estimated to be between $650,000 and $700,000, to be provided by the 10 cents per thousand assessment levy approved by voters last November.

By this summer the district should have several youth programs going as well as an off-leash dog area in Skallman Park. Commissioners hope to have a solid and diverse program in place at the end of two years to show voters that their investment was utilized wisely for the benefit of the entire community. “We’re here to listen to the community and offer parks and recreation programs approved by the community,” commissioner Terry Johnston said.

Morris said he sees NWPRD as an umbrella that will bring the two communities of Blaine and Birch Bay closer together and noted “the rec program adds hugely to the economic health of this area.”

A website is currently being developed to provide a calendar of events and links to related sites. When finished, that site will be located at www.nwparkandrec.org.

Morris stated that NWPRD is hoping to acquire a storefront in the near future which would be staffed, at least on a part-time basis. In the meantime, Morris said residents can contact the commissioners via P.O. Box 68, Blaine, 98231, or nwprd2@hotmail.com.