Bhm Herald Editorial onBarracks

Home Contents Info Correspondents ©1999

Editorial in the Bellingham Herald
Friday, February 12, 1999
Reprinted with permission of the Herald

 A nice compliment from the Bellingham Herald

The Herald Editorial is a compliment to the positive energy that Barracks residents have put into trying to save their homes.

There is one error: The fire station decision is still not final - not til the city council votes later this spring. There is time for changes to the plans. I urge citizens in other parts of Bellingham to call their council rep and ask that the other options be considered fairly and rather than the normal 'face saving'.

The Barracks issue is a micro example of how City Hall can do a project without first studying options. No cost benefit analysis was done. No response time study of different fire station locations was done. No analysis of the cost of replacing the lost apartments was done. There are better solutions for our tax dollars and for a better fire station location.

Here are comments on the editorial:

No decision has been made yet. The City is still in the process. The City Council will make a decision this spring. Saving 17 apartments is easily possible - at a savings of taxpayer dollars over the present plan.

Certainly true of the Barracks. The writer is on target. City documents reproduced on clearly state that advantages of buying the Barracks are low cost and ability to get rid of the blight of the Barracks. What is missing from city documents is any systematic search for the best location for the new fire station. They just found the cheapest site.

City documents show a concern to keep costs low but lack any concern for seeing if the location will best serve the taxpayers.

The city upped the relocation amount from $5000 to $10,000 in an effort to get the residents to go quietly.

The city says it considered other locations, but city documents do not support this. Indeed, past Fire Chief Jay Gunsauls admitted to me that the location behind the Red Apple supermarket - with the station front doors opening onto 14th street - was the best location on the South Side. Yet the Fire Department never talked to those property owners. It did not even investigate the best location on the South Side.

Well, the city officials were well aware before of the need for low income housing. Their own planning guidelines put this need at the top of the list.

We don't want to fight city hall. We want to work with our elected representatives to help make decisions. In our representative's we have vested our right to vote on the issues but not our right to participate in the discussion leading to the vote. City Council members seem to resent and resist accepting common sense suggestions from citizens. If they or city staff didn't think of an idea, then they don't like it.

Home Contents Info Correspondents ©1999