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Check the Protect Bellingham Parks Website

By John ServaisOn Feb 06, 2013

If you are still considering how to vote on the Chuckanut Park issue, please check over at the website of the official opposition. They have added more information on why a vote NO is the most common sense action. The link to their website is also in the right column, but can be easily missed.

Protect Bellingham Parks

This special factional Chuckanut Park ballot measure sends a negative message of not trusting our Greenways and Parks Departments. If we love our green environments then a vote NO is the better action. Passage of this will hurt future Greenways levy ballot measures. Check out the opposition website and be fully informed before voting.

Update: If you have decided to vote NO, then you might want to help the cause. Email Bill Geyer at:

billgeyer@comcast.net

or

info@protectbellinghamparks.com

and join in these last days to help turn out the No vote.

About John Servais

Writer • Fairhaven, Washington USA • Member since Feb 26, 2008

John started Northwest Citizen in 1995 to inform fellow citizens of serious local political issues that the Bellingham Herald was ignoring. With the help of donors from the beginning, he has [...]

Comments by Readers

Hue Beattie

Feb 06, 2013

too bad you didn’t devote this much space and energy on the 3 to 5 for the port last year. It only went down by a small amount.

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John Erickson

Feb 07, 2013

I just knew that you could not let a day go by without fanning the flames! Looking forward to the 12th, maybe then we can talk about something else.

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John Servais

Feb 07, 2013

These pages have been open to the organizers of the petition - but they have chosen to not submit but one article.  This is an issue of my neighborhood - and it intends to tax me for what is folly.  I have walked Chuckanut Ridge for decades and used these pages as far back as 1996 to fight against the development of the 1,300 plus housing units on the sensitive areas.  And I have always - for decades - known that some of the dry and almost level land along Chuckanut Drive was perfect for 20 to 40 fine homes. 

Directly across the street are homes now - many owned by proponents of the park who would deny others to live just across the street from them.  Fan the flames?  You and proponents are meeting this Saturday morning to doorbell my neighbors.  You want me to give up and leave the final week to you?  Sorry, John and Hue, it does not work that way.  The tool I have is this website and I will use it. 

You proponents refuse to address the points we have raised.  Proponents prefer to repeat two false statements - that the forest needs to be saved and that this is our last chance.  In truth, the forest is already saved and owned by the city and we have five years to find a common community wide process for the city to repay the loan to itself.  This park tax is overkill and a waste of our money.  And will hurt future Greenways levy chances. 

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David Marshak

Feb 07, 2013

Last week, John, you maligned the Greenways Advisory Committee by claiming that we had a “culture of secrecy.”

Today you say that the Chuckanut Community Forest initiative says that we don’t trust “our Greenways.”

Let me see if I understand. You want us to trust our Greenways projects but you don’t trust the people actually working on the projects?

By the way, John, what would you like to know about the Greenways Advisory Committee’s activities? I’d be happy to answer your questions to the best of my knowledge.

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John Servais

Feb 07, 2013

We can be critical of our local agencies and should put our political action towards improving them.  Yes, in my opinion, the Greenways discusses too much in executive sessions.  More than one current member agrees with me and says they are working for more transparency. 

A citizen criticizing their government agencies is not maligning them.  It is called speaking out and I practice it.  However, I also treasure our legitimate local governments and do not want to see their roles displaced by factional agencies.  This Park District is an example of a factional agency.

I urge those voting NO on this issue to also vote for Anna Williams.  She is also against this Park District but realizes that if it is formed then we need at least one representative on the board to represent us.  Anna has a good grasp of financial affairs and is conservative in the classic sense.

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Delaine Clizbe

Feb 07, 2013

Ok let me get this straight.  The proponents want us to believe the the “sky is falling” and that if we do not do something the land will be sold.  The COB has made it clear that the loan from the Greenways Endowment has to be paid back by 2017.  The Proponents are proposing that this little MPD will charge a .28/1000 tax starting in 2014 and that the tax will need to run for 10 years.

By 2017 they will have only collected three years of tax.  How on earth are they going to pay off the loan in time? 


One other thing.  The proponents claim that they are doing this to pay off the land and they want a “conservation easement” in return.  The last Conservation Easement that I saw in negotiation was between Whatcom County Parks Director Mike McFarland and Rand Jack of Whatcom Land Trust over the Lake Whatcom Reconveyance land.  The going rate at that time, about a year ago, was $50,000 for 8000+acres ($6.25 per acre)and would cover the land into perpetuity. 

At that rate, the easement on 82 acres should be about $512.50 The proponents are suggesting we pay 3.2 million plus whatever the interest adds up to be for a conservation easement on 82 acres of land.  It seems to me that they are going to pay at least $3,199,487.50 too much!

 

 

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Tip Johnson

Feb 08, 2013

What a cheerful little project!

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Alex McLean

Feb 08, 2013

The “legitimate rape” aspects of this MPD, whereby proponents presume that Happy Valley’s density and fleeting college students were “just asking for it,” tends to knock the harmonious good cheer off of this otherwise worthy cause.

If these folks had found a way to pony up ANY MONEY AT ALL—such as the $1 million they used to be committed to raising—then this would feel a lot more like good date proposed by an ardent suitor. As it stands, however, my neighborhood is getting hornswoggled by a massive campaign effort which aims to perfume the stench of economic injustice that radiates from these presumptuous and demanding charmers. Once clobbered into submission to this overbearing proposal, we’ll be asked to effectively codify, through the ball-n-chain of our tax dollars, that we cannot flirt with any of the other cute forests or environmental causes in and around the District. “Save OUR forest!” therefore elevates to law the already extraordinary privilege and attention that we have showered upon this one, dumb, noisy, belligerent hunk of handsome but poorly-mannered property.

After getting knocked up, after getting forced into marriage to this lummox, we only have to wait 10 years for a chance to start initiating our divorce papers. Given how pushy and greedy the proposal already is, I have no doubt that the greed and malice behind sucking dollars from the densest neighborhood in town (we may be “dense”, but that doesn’t make us “easy!”) will entice further bludgeoning and abuse from proponents who have proven, beyond doubt, that they care about nothing but themselves and their own gratification.

When I CHOOSE to give money to a cause, I want it to be a cheerful occasion.

As “our” purchase of this small slice of absurdly expensive forest will benefit such precious and few people, I gain no joy from having this uninspired proposal kicked down my throat. If this issue was somehow not divisive in the past, as some folks ambitiously like to believe, then I can promise that 10 years (or 20, or 30, 40 ...) of paying my dowry to the rich and fanatical in this town will, assuredly, cement the bitterness of the rift that others, somehow, claim does not exist between us.

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Dan Pike

Feb 09, 2013

Alex,

Disappointing to see this level of invective and hyperbole thrown at proponents and the MPD.  I’m sure John will be along shortly to chastise you.

There are good arguments to be made on both sides of this issue.  You’ve made some good anit points yourself, in earlier postings.  My own perspective is that, on balance, the MPD makes good sense.  The City has been clear that future Greenways funds are not available; I know from education and experience that TDRs are extremely unlikely to work as a funding mechanism; and I know that selling a significant piece of Chuckanut Ridge remains the viable alternative to this plan.

Many are okay with selling some part; I gather you are among them.  That is a legitimate perspective.  If you want to save all the property, a Yes vote is the right vote.

At the end of the voting, we will all still be neighbors.  It would be nice if we could not feel inflamed about each other over this vote, and because of excessive invective.

Thanks,
Dan

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Alex McLean

Feb 09, 2013

Dan,

As your neighbor, as a member of this community, I greatly look forward to marching beside you as you continue your efforts to thwart the coal trains that threaten our city and lifestyles here.

As chastening as it is to get scolded by a former mayor, however, I have to take issue with the use of the word “hyperbole” in describing my diatribes.

It is an absolute fact that Dan Remsen, the lead proponent for this MPD, visited both the Greenways Advisory Committee and the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board. When he did so, and when asked why the district’s boundaries were drawn to engulf the hinterlands of Happy Valley, he very calmly explained that this was an economic calculation, pure and simple, to flatten the financial impacts of this tax and spread it to thousands of people who, geographically, are clearly not the prime beneficiaries of saving this bit of land from development. The proponents might want Happy Valley’s votes—assuredly they do—but they are mostly interested in our dollars. I find that outright fact of this proposal to be both crass and revolting, divisive by definition, and I don’t see how the proponent’s silence and piety (class warfare is too icky to discuss, but it is just fine to wage?) empowers you or anyone else to label my gripes as “invective.”

If it comforts you any, I am well aware that my kicking sand upon the picnic of well-respected environmentalists in this town will make a pariah of me for years to come. I’ve painted this bulls-eye on my back in neon and it gets bigger every day.

Still, that doesn’t make me—or my vituperative defense of my neighborhood—worthy of your or anyone else’s long-term inflammation. I can vote no, as you said, or I can shut up for 10 years and dutifully pay the tax.

What I can’t do is simply sit here and benignly agree with you and other proponents as you attempt to rinse your hands of a hastily-cobbled-together purchase, and all of its lingering impacts, with an even more slap-dash effort to pay off the debt to Greenways that this purchase has incurred.

I’d like to agree with you.
But then we would both be wrong.

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Delaine Clizbe

Feb 09, 2013

Alex,
I appreciate your standing up to a situation that is wrong!  You are the better man!

I almost didn’t come to your door the other day due to your “no coal” sign out front.  Truth is that although folks label themselves and others, we are very rarely just one thing.  I call myself a conservative and yet I like wind power…..gasp!

Besides that, your writing is awesome!  Not sure why Pike continues to try to out write and out debate you!

Keep up the good work!

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Delaine Clizbe

Feb 10, 2013

Alex,
Check out the article in today’s Herald about the community gardens in Happy Valley.  That may very well answer your question: “why include Happy Valley?”.

http://www.bellinghamherald.com/2013/02/09/2870304/bellingham-hopes-to-trim-government.html


How much you want to bet that the MPD, if put into place will take on the management fees and possibly even purchase these gardens.

Here is another “project” the MPD could possibly fund.  http://jaynie-happyvalleyneighborhood.blogspot.com/

Scroll down to the post on June 2, 2010.  To find Hue Beattie’s little pet project:

The second pocket park of Happy Valley is located on the corner of 21st Street and Larrabee Avenue. This park has a pond that is about 40 feet in diameter for runoff water coming from parking lots nearby. Beattie said residents of Stanford Apartments use this area as a permaculture landscape, or edible landscape. The area provides food such as nuts and berries for the people and wildlife around it. The Happy Valley Neighborhood Association, http://www.happyvalleyna.com/, tried to propose a plan for this area to become a community garden, but the Parks and Recreation Department decided it was too small.

Yes, someone came and cleared the blackberry patch out and then left the land to be overgrown again with blackberries.  There are no nut trees on the property.  The “pond” is a retention pond for the Adrik Place apartments, surely now critical habitat!  Yes the racoons and the rats use the blackberry patch to build “freeways” from the pond to peoples trash cans. 

How much will this little pet project cost the taxpayers?

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John Servais

Feb 10, 2013

Delaine, your prediction or assessment of some probable actions if the mini park district is voted into being is correct.  The new commissioners, regardless of verbal commitments, are wonderful uber enviros who will suddenly realize they have the power to increase the tax and right any number of old wrongs and “do good” where they have been stymied in the past. 

There is absolutely no doubt they will come under pressure from many of their supporters to do more.  The cry will be they have a mandate to do more - that now is the time and again we will hear the words “last chance” to save this and that and that over there.  And the tax will go up. 

I have lived in Happy Valley and Fairhaven for over well over 30 years.  And go back to the 1960s in knowing some of the strongest proponents.  They are good people who intend the best but are slaves to a uber green enviro belief system that is religion to them.  They do not even understand how asking many poor families in Happy Valley to fund excessive park land is cruel.  They do not understand asking the rest of us to buy land right next to their own properties is selfish on their part.

I am a lifelong enviro and they all know that.  I have fought for preventing the gross development of over 1,400 condo units on Chuckanut Ridge for far longer than many of them.  I warned them in the 1990s and they took no urgent action when we could have had the property much cheaper.  Now the sensitive Chuckanut Ridge is saved and they are greedy for excessive park so as to have nothing but forest next to their homes.  This is the sad truth of their mini Park District.  They are not satisfied with saving the ridge, wetlands, trail connection corridors and stream beds. 

And this greed for more and more will result in them saying yes to more projects that will increase the property tax on those who cannot afford higher taxes.  The proponents gerrymandered their tax district, avoiding the wealthy Samish neighborhood that is close to the park because they knew that neighborhood would vote resoundingly no.  Yet parts of Happy Valley neighborhood are much further from Chuckanut Ridge than are parts of the Samish neighborhood.  A revealing example of the unfair and deceitful nature of this ballot measure.

Neighbors - as a strong enviro and one who has fought to save Chuckanut Ridge since 1996, I urge you to vote NO on the misguided parks district.  Chuckanut Ridge is already saved.

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Alex McLean

Feb 10, 2013

I’ve been aware that the “Happy Valley Community Garden” was on private land for some time and have brought this to the attention of Greenways. My question, which applies also to the commercial zoning of virtually all of the Waterfront District’s proposed parks, is why these areas appear green—as in public/open space—on our maps when, in reality, they have potentially fleeting use as a public resource. The City may address this through map inventories in coming months to provide better information about potential long-term uses and impacts to connectivity, secured non-motorized transportation corridors, and overall functionality of our trails and open space.

The Happy Valley Community Garden provides the only contiguous trail connection to 32nd St., from East to West, to our neighborhood’s only significant trail corridor, the Connelly Creek Nature Area. While there is another portal buried down on MacKenzie, the difference between walking through a developed cul de-sac and directly into someone’s backyard vs. a designated trailhead is psychologically significant; one feels inviting and could encourage use, the other feels like trespassing and has a buried trailhead at an imposing dead-end street. Although the Herald article implies there is no crisis of immanent development, it is noteworthy that there is no permanent easement or any other arrangement for public access through this privately owned garden.

As I noted in my manifesto encouraging garden plots atop the Downtown Bellingham Parkade, our local parking garage with a perpetually vacant top floor, it is a fact that the only regions in this nation where agriculture acreage is expanding are located in our urban areas. Gardening, especially in dense cities, has taken off exponentially in the past decade. This is not so much a hippie thing as just a practical reality of hobbyists and dabblers latching onto (or forcing) access to food security, local production, and a new-found desire to know where our food comes from.

It would be a drag if the Happy Valley garden is developed some day as it seems to be a wildly popular resource for this community.

What this sidebar discussion illustrates most, however, is that Happy Valley is about to pump all of its park and open space resources into acquiring a few winsome and undefined acres three miles away from our densest population centers at WWU’s housing cores and Sehome’s apartment and condo blocks. Besides living under an acquisition moratorium for much of this current Greenways levy, imposed for the sake of enshrining the sacredness of Chuckanut Ridge over all other worthy properties, we now will be taxing ourselves twice to secure the same plot of land which will benefit us not barely a bit.

Those who vote yes for this MPD, I contend, will also be voting to ensure that no resources—for at least 10 years, 20, or 30—will be allotted to our Happy Valley neighborhood, the densest neighborhood in Bellingham, and its trails and open space needs. Although I have little doubt that the powerful juggernaut of publicity, campaign flyers, yard-signs, door-belling, and gibberish-laden speeches will prevail during Tuesday’s vote, I still want to carve a spot on the record where, decades from now, we can point to this vote as being the moment where the ghettos in Happy Valley gave their political voice to THREE commissioners whose sole fixation is to lard further fat upon their narrowly defined Park District and its even narrower group of beneficiaries.

I’d vote yes if this proposal were less selfish and greedy.

Since it is not, I will retain my own selfishness and greed by voting NO and hoping that a better proposal will arise to protect my neighborhood and its taxpayers from future Ponzi schemes and manipulations of this sort.

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Hue Beattie

Feb 10, 2013

The student blog article is not correct. I said it “could” be planted.Just trying to make more gardens.This has nothing to do with the M.P.D.

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