Blaine City Council gave a nod of approval Monday night for a local group called the Coalition for Historic Preservation to pursue moving and renovating Blaine’s century-old train station.
“Graham Hunter and his group gave a fantastic presentation,” council member John Liebert said, adding that as a kid he used to play around it when his father Carl was the general agent for the Railway Express company in 1946. Encouragement for the project, estimated to cost over half a million dollars last year, was not given without several council members expressing reservations.
“What we did was not really to pass anything but to express support, give a nod of approval to go to the next step, meet with Port of Bellingham officials next month and progress from there and then come back to us,” said Liebert. “That will give them the credibility they need to start fundraising. But there’s a question as to how much the city can do financially.”
The council, with the exception of Scott Dodd who was present via telephone, was cautiously supportive according to former mayor Alma Wagner.
“Terry Galvin and Gary Tomsic were instrumental in getting this in front of the council in a way they could understand and support,” said Merideth Goodman. “They made the evening flow.”
Port of Bellingham planner Sylvia Goodman and commissioner Jim Jorgensen, both Blaine residents, spoke briefly and wondered why the group had not come to them first since the projected location at the boat launch at the south end of Milhollin Drive is on land owned by Port of Bellingham.
Galvin said that this was a necessary first step so the port would know that the city is supportive of the plan.
“It was the kind of support that if not offered would have stopped the project,” Wagner said, “but giving it won’t necessarily make it happen, it just moves it along one more step. If the port is supportive of the idea as well and will also go on record, then they and the city and the coalition all will have a lot of work to do to make this happen. There are always risks in life, but nothing ventured, nothing gained. You could tell by the number of people present that there is a lot of support in the community for doing this.”
The coalition next will meet with Port of Bellingham commissioners during a public meeting September 15.