Letters to the Editor: April 2015

The Editor:

The date and time for the annual general meeting (AGM) of the Friends of the Point Roberts Library (FOPRL) has been selected: April 25, 4 p.m., at the community center. It will be four years since the members decided to pursue a major fundraising campaign to renovate the old fire hall next to the community center and thus to provide Point Roberts with a new and adequate library for its community members’ needs.

After four years, FOPRL has achieved 501(c)(3) status with the IRS and has raised $436,000. Although this does not fully fund the new library, it is enough for us to begin taking further steps in the building/renovation process. At the AGM, I will present plans for final funding; Judith Wolfman will detail the work of the community design committee in creating the final plans for the building and David King, the architect hired by the Point Roberts Park and Recreation District to complete this project, will show in a 3D-flyby video what our new building will look like. Books with plates of many different views will be available for members to work their way through.

Getting these final plans has been one of the highlights of the last few months; another has been the $27,000 gift from the McEachern Foundation of Seattle. Two other private foundations in Seattle have also previously contributed to our new library: the Norcliffe and Archibald foundations. One of the problems of living in an exclave is the inherent feeling that nobody quite knows or cares about us, but here is living proof that people know and care, and have demonstrated that by providing solid assistance in achieving this community goal.

Other “points of light” in 2015 have been the Michael Munro concert at the Trinity Lutheran Church in February, and the estate sale in early March, as well as the quilt group’s Crazy Quilt raffle and the bagel brunch at the March 21 Spring Market. Each is a gift by a community member or members to this wonderful new library that is coming to us soon.

And, finally, in what we hope will provide dozens more points of life, we have conducted a special mailing to about 150 Point Roberts property owners who have not yet contributed in hopes that they will join the almost 1,000 other donors to this project. It is a community library, and it has taken and will take a community to create it.

Judy Ross
Point Roberts

The Editor:

The concerted effort to stop the AM radio tower array in Point Roberts is not over, not by a long shot. Several levels of appeal are still open for BBC Broadcasting to take and they are, apparently, planning on using them.

The Cross-Border Coalition to Stop the Towers won a significant victory last month when the Whatcom County Council voted unanimously to uphold the hearing examiner’s decision to deny BBC the permit to build the tower array. The coalition has now won both rounds and this is cause for celebration but the battle is far from won.

On March 5, BBC’s lawyers filed an appeal of the county council’s decision. The filing was entered under LUPA (“Land-Use Petition Act”) on the grounds that the hearing examiner erred in his determination that zoning codes limited the height of structures on Point Roberts (including radio transmission towers) and that county council erred in concurring.

The appeal will be heard in Washington Superior Court in Skagit County. This venue move is common in zoning and land-use cases. Appellants, seeking to increase their chance of winning, hope for a more favorable outcome where the case has gotten less publicity.

The appeal process is complex, has many layers and will take many months. The initial hearing is scheduled for mid-April. After that there will be a series of filings from both sides with the actual court date expected in mid-fall.

While this appeal is working its way through the courts the coalition is continuing its efforts in Washington, DC to deny BBC Broadcasting its license renewal and continuing to work with various Canadian agencies to redress the impact this tower array will have on the residents of Tsawwassen and Point Roberts.

These legal proceedings are expensive. The Skagit County case will probably cost as much as the appeal before county council did.

But the coalition is in this fight for the long-term. The battle is over the health, well-being and quality of life of the 23,000 residents of a vibrant, international peninsula. It is focused on the vital interests of local businesses, churches, civic organizations, schools and homes on both sides of the border.

The coalition continues to need help from the Tsawwassen – Point Roberts community. There will be a town hall meeting on Tuesday, March 31 at 7 p.m. at the Tsawwassen United Church on 53rd Street, where attendees will learn about the legal process and get information about two
upcoming fundraisers. This meeting will also share important new information
on the impact of the towers on our two communities.

Additional information is available at notowers.webs.com. Donations may always be made there as well.

Arthur Reber
Point Roberts

The Editor:

Tourism provides over 5,000 jobs in Whatcom County. Birch Bay parks, hotels and restaurants account for some of those. Another 2,300 jobs come from fishing, fish processing, boat building and repair. I don’t know how many jobs are farm-dependent but the number is significant. Farmers and fish rely on clean, reliable water for survival, as do we all.

The proposed 640-acre Gateway Pacific Terminal (GPT) at Cherry Point will employ 257 people. GPT’s permit application to the Whatcom County PUD grants a daily average 5.33 million gallons of Nooksack River water until 2042. Water will be sprayed on the 2.5 miles of open coal piles, preventing dust from blowing onto Birch Bay homes and BP Refinery instrumentation. The highest demand for water will be in summer when farmers, fish and homeowners are most dependent on the already stressed Nooksack source.

More than 8,500 people reside in Birch bay year-round with a summer population up to 24,000. Eighteen coal trains, each 1.5 miles long, will enter and leave Birch Bay and Custer daily, along with one or two oil trains. We are presently adjusting to the echo noise of oil trains, but it would become a 24/7 din with coal trains.

Modern coal ships are over 1,000 feet long and will share Cherry Point with oil tankers. Herring beds, fishermen, salmon and orcas won’t survive the daily arrival of foreign ships with invasive species carried on hulls and in ballast water or escaping coal toxins.

New business grows steadily between the Bellingham Airport and Ferndale. Blaine added border crossing, dairy, supply and freight-dependent jobs. Whatcom County is growing new jobs. GPT will cost existing jobs in fishing, tourism, farming and home values.

Alice Brown
Birch Bay

The Editor:

GPT proponents try to fool us into thinking that the coal export terminal would be harmless; they say it wouldn’t hurt our environment. The ads and spokesmen say GPT would be “state-of-the-art;” it would have “zero percent emissions,” and GPT would have “no odors, dust, or dirt emitted that are detectable beyond the property line.” But anyone with basic common sense knows if you put an uncovered pile of a substance like coal on the ground, some of it would be carried away by wind and rain – it would have emissions.

GPT will put 2.5 miles of six-story high, uncovered coal stockpiles completely exposed to the wind and rain on the ground at Cherry Point. Wind, rain and tidal currents would spread GPT’s toxic coal dust through air and water to our bays and beaches, to our communities, our homes, our gardens, our food and our lungs.

While GPT proponents try to fool us with these ludicrous claims, GPT’s official permit application on file in Whatcom County says that uncovered coal stockpiles generate windblown dust and GPT’s techniques for trying to control coal dust emissions would consist of “…perimeter soil berms, regular pavement sweeping and/or application of chemical surfactants,” and spraying the coal with up to 1.9 billion gallons of our Nooksack River water annually. That’s water we need for farms, fish and drinking. And while GPT proponents say it would be harmless, GPT’s permit application says GPT’s potential impacts include “degradation in water quality, impacts on spawning fish populations and shoreline and tidal impacts,” and GPT could “impede tribal or commercial fishing success or tourism.”

We the people of Whatcom County depend upon the shared natural treasures provided by our beautiful environment – clean air, land and water. We’re not fools. We won’t permit GPT to destroy the natural treasures that our lives and livelihoods depend upon. So SSA Marine, Montana and Wyoming – please keep your coal, cover your own homes with it, breathe it or eat it. Here in Whatcom County we prefer to keep and eat our salmon.

Paula Rotundi
Blaine

The Editor:

What’s all the hoopla? A marvelous new service, free from your local library, for up to 12 movies a month! It is so easy to sign up using your library card. Go to hoopladigital.com and start enjoying free movies, music and audio books with no late fees. One more good free thing from your library!

Kris Lomedico
Point Roberts Library branch manager

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