Letters to the Editor: November 2017

The Editor:

I’ve been told by several people that there is some misunderstanding among local voters about the connection between the park and recreation district levy that is on the November 7 ballot and the new library.

The levy is to be used solely for the regular maintenance and service work of the park district in order to: keep the community center open and available to the public for meetings and events, including senior lunches, food bank, etc.; maintain the community center and the Baker Field properties; and hire a person to oversee all this work so that the commissioners can better focus their time on longer term plans for the parks district.

None of the levy funds will be used for the new library. The new library is funded by private donations gathered by the Friends of the Point Roberts Library. That money has already been raised; if additional funds for the library are required, then the Friends will provide them, not the parks district.

When the new library is completed and in operation, all operating costs will be paid by the Whatcom County Library Services, again, not by the park and recreation district.

Judy Ross, president

Friends of Point Roberts Library

 

The Editor:

I am disappointed in the lack of respect and decency that the marina has shown its neighbors by dumping 25,000 cubic yards of ocean sand and muck behind the homes on Edwards Drive.

This material is going to smell like low tide and sit there as an eye sore for everyone driving along Edwards for over three years. The marina’s permit allows them to have it sit there while they move 7,500 yards per year down to the beach.

Surely there were other options that a good neighbor and business could have and would have done.

David Craig

Delta, B.C.

 

The Editor:

Thank you for your article in the October 2017 issue of All Point Bulletin reporting on the Taxpayers Association’s endorsement of the proposed maintenance and operation levy, which will keep our park and recreation district funded for the next six years.

I am writing to emphasize two main points: First, while the proposed levy will significantly increase the tax rate, the absolute amount is really quite modest. An average $200,000 property would be levied about $43 per year.

Over the past many years, successive park boards have discussed the need to hire a part-time superintendent or manager to run the day-to-day maintenance and operations of the district but this is the first time they have asked the voters for the necessary level of funding.

Second, the measure before us is not specifically or only whether to approve the higher rate. Rather, it is whether to fund the park and recreation district after December 31, when the district’s current authority to levy taxes expires.

The park board has proposed a new six-year levy at a rate the commissioners feel is necessary. We urge all the individuals and organizations that use and perhaps sometimes take for granted the community center, library, or Baker Field to support this ballot measure.

Think about how important these facilities are to the community. Their continued operation depends on approval of the levy. Please vote “Yes.”

Mark Robbins, president

Point Roberts Taxpayers Association

 

The Editor:

Point Roberts Emergency Preparedness Group (PREP) supports the passage of the park and recreation district levy. PREP group has the privilege of holding monthly meetings at the community center without charge. A yearly fund-raising pancake breakfast is also held at the center without charge.

In the future, PREP will be allowed to store our emergency trailer on park and recreation district property. This will enable PREP to be able to respond to disasters more efficiently with the trailer parked adjacent to the fire district building.

The community center has been designated as a shelter should a disaster occur. An agreement has been negotiated between the park board and Red Cross for the use of this facility during a disaster.

PREP is aware that every property owner in Point Roberts is affected by increased taxes. We feel the costs are justified by supporting every resident in Point Roberts.

Shant Tersakian PREP president

Point Roberts

 

The Editor:

As Port of Bellingham commissioner, Dan Robbins has done outstanding service for Whatcom County these past four years. Not only does he work hard for his constituents in district 1, he has made it a goal to become aware of what is going on all across our county.

Dan is familiar with most of the businesses: the fishermen, educators, CEOs, farmers, marine trades, restaurants and more. He’s very fair when making decisions for individuals as well as for corporations.

The Port has been active in planning a huge project on the Bellingham waterfront as well as a much needed repair service at Blaine Harbor. These are two important projects that affect many lives in Whatcom County and impact many jobs directly and indirectly.

Sometimes making decisions can be challenging – I know because I was a port commissioner for 12 years and worked on similar issues. Dan and I worked together my last two years. That’s why you can be sure I speak from experience that Dan makes well-thought-out decisions. He deserves your vote.

Jim Jorgensen

Blaine

 

The Editor:

I do not believe we need a new jail and will not be voting for the new jail tax that will be on the ballot. There was a jail tax approved in 2004 and $31.7 million was collected. No new jail was built. Why not? Where did that money go?

Sixty-two percent of Whatcom County inmates are nonviolent or low-level offenders, according to 2017 preliminary data findings from the Vera Institute of Justice. Why are we keeping these people in jail at very costly rates per person, especially if they are not dangerous, haven’t been convicted of a crime or simply can’t make bail?

The jail can be upgraded, but it must be maintained. Letting it fall into disrepair and then asking the voters for money to build a bigger, far more expensive jail is simply bad planning and regressive thinking. Crime rates have actually been dropping for many years, despite scare reporting to the contrary.

Instead of putting nonviolent mentally ill people in jail let’s move money into creating mental health services to treat them instead of locking them up. Jail is only a temporary solution and it is very costly. Haven’t we learned that by now?

Perhaps money could go to inexpensive housing to help move homeless people off the streets and into safer habitation. Is there an empty building, in an area with other facilities in place, that could be turned into housing? This would definitely be cheaper than locking people up and paying others to guard them.

If we could look at many of these people as needing our help instead of thinking ‘they must be punished’ we could move forward. Some people must be removed from the general population for our safety, but many do not need to be incarcerated for minor infractions or mental illness or because they have become homeless.

When old, tired ideas aren’t working it is time to look for new solutions. A new, expensive jail is an old-fashioned, backward idea, offered up by people who have nothing more inventive to offer.

Alta Toler

Lynden

 

The Editor:

Please take notice, Whatcom County citizens: The upcoming Port of Bellingham commission election on November 7 needs your urgent attention. A major issue at stake is the future of our undeveloped waterfront, and what will or will not happen there.

There is a dramatic distinction between District 2 candidates Ken Bell and Barry Wenger; a Port for the wealthy versus a Port for the people. Wenger is focused on fostering waterfront development with community benefits – abundant public access, protection of the maritime trades, environmental stewardship and attraction of clean energy and green tech companies which will provide careers for Whatcom County children appropriate for the 21st century.

Bell, with his longstanding and well-documented ties to the fossil fuel and coal industries, wants to sell off our waterfront assets to big developers and pursue development at any cost, putting industry needs before public needs; he is not the moderate and environmental steward he is claiming to be!

Wenger has 26 years of experience working to facilitate waterfront development around the state of Washington. He is a proven leader with profound knowledge of the issues, the players, the challenges and the legal regulations at stake. We must all ask ourselves this question: Will the Bellingham waterfront be sold to the highest bidder for pricey condos with inadequate cleanup (Bell) or will we choose to develop our most precious public asset, with care and attention, to create multiple benefits for all generations to come?

Vote Barry Wenger for Port Commission, District 2, on November 7!

Holly Harris

Bellingham

 

The Editor:

A lot of talk about levy with no money (really?) for the library.

Multiply assessed Point Roberts properties by the proponent’s claimed average ($43 multiplied by 2300) yields the park and recreation district $98,900 per year. Will we get a five year plan, monthly budgets, publication?

Any park and recreation levy will pay library building maintenance (plus all community center expenses, instead of the half paid now by library.) Levy funds already paid asbestos/lead abatement and possibly other costs of removing old fire hall (park and recreation district/Friends of Point Roberts Library (FOPRL)/Whatcom County Library System (WCLS) agreement: ‘Library use is rent-free for 50 years’).

There seems no provision in agreement for accountability to park and recreation district. (FOPRL is a private, non-profit corporation, not accountable to the public. WCLS operates similar to park and recreation district , as a ‘junior-taxing district’ of Whatcom County.)

The 2016 levy to “approve a tax levy to pay additional costs of the project” and “to pay a portion of the cost of renovating” failed. (86 votes short of required super-majority.) Washington State Legislative Ethics requires elected officials to recuse from voting where there is “an interest in, or incur an obligation of any nature, (like encumber the title of the new library building by taking money from WCLS?)

We own government, we are responsible for officials not being “led into temptation” … a human trait. Law fundamental; a contract contrary to law is unenforceable through legal means. Justice; elected officials in the service of representing the whole community.

Donna Gillespie

Point Roberts

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