To: The City Council of Bellingham

From: Adam Ward, 360.714.9487

Date: 8 February 1999

RE: Public Process and the New Southside Fire Station

Citizens for Diverse Neighborhoods formally requests that the CityCouncil of Bellingham, as a collective body, in efforts to enhancethe integrity of public process in regards to the new and much neededfire station being designed for the Southside, use its authority totake action on the following four items.

(1) Issue a formal written request* to the Facilities DevelopmentManager of the City of Bellingham Fire Department, Dave Wolfe,requesting that he work with the Southside Fire Station projectarchitect to prepare several well researched and distinct plans forbuilding an excellent fire station and preserving 17 Barracks units.

To this end, Mr. Wolfe and the project architect should beencouraged to provide all of the following at the next publicmeeting:

Preliminary design sketches of both (1) a horizontal / suburbanstyle fire station and (2) a vertical / urban style fire station.Written analysis helpful to quality public process would include, butnot be limited to: (1) empirical budgetary costcomparisons--presented in an accessible format, (2) comparison offoot print sizes, (3) analysis of strengths and weaknesses of eachmodel from a functional aspect for fire fighters and general publicuse. And, (4) narrative analysis and sketches should both beencouraged as a means by which to present the FireDepartmentís vision concerning the esthetic integration ofeither model (the horizontal and the vertical) with the homes andbuildings immediately visible from the site.

b. Location sketches on the Barracks site which facilitate thepreservation of 17 Barracks units should be presented along withempirical budgetary analysis of projected cost for each model. (Forthe integrity of public process, the Fire Department should beencouraged to present all projected budgets using a low-end, high-endand median budgetary forecast continuum. Also, the Fire Departmentshould be encouraged to provide a narrative description of theirmethodology for making budgetary projections.)

(2) The Southside Fire Station site selection process has beencalled into serious question by enough engaged citizens to seriouslyundermine community faith in public process. Therefore, the Citizensfor Diverse Neighborhoods strongly advocates that the City Counciluse its authority to issue a formal written request* to theFacilities Development Manager of the City of Bellingham FireDepartment, Dave Wolfe, requesting that he prepare an executivesummary concerning the site selection process.

The executive summary should be organized in a very accessibleformat. Mr. Wolfe should be encouraged to present an analysis of thestrengths and weaknesses of all the sites authorized officials of theCity said were to be evaluated. The summary should include (but notbe limited to) comparisons of the various sites studied in regard to(1) projected land acquisition costs, (2) projected emergencyresponse times to all major service areas, (3) anticipated politicalopposition and support, (4) non-fire department related publicbenefits to each site, and (5) aesthetic concerns. And, (6) a clearand accurate historical timeline of the major events pertaining tothe site selection process would prove helpful to enhancing publicprocess on this issue.

To this end, Mr. Wolfe should be encouraged to draft and release awritten executive summary of the Southside Fire Station siteselection process. This executive summary would best enhance publicprocess if it were made available two working days prior to the nextpublic meeting concerning the design of the new Southside FireStation. We suggest that the executive summary be mailed, in a timelyfashion, to people who attended both the 2 Feb. 1999 and 4 Feb. 1999public meetings concerning the new fire station. Additional copiesshould be made available through the downtown public library, asshould all public documents pertinent to the fire station siteselection process. These documents would be made available for studyin the library. The City would use print and electronic media, aswell as direct mail, to announce the availability of the executivesummaries at the downtown library.

(3) Issue a written invitation to the Facilities DevelopmentManager of the City of Bellingham Fire Department, Dave Wolfe, andother relevant parties within the City to draft and co-sign both (a)a narrative document and (b) a flow-chart which clearly delineatesmutually agreed upon lines of authority and accountability on theSouthside Fire Station project. Many participating citizens needclarity in this area. These documents should be easy to read andavailable prior to the next public fire station design meeting.

(4) Issue a written request to the appropriate department headwithin the City to conduct a formal cost analysis concerning thereplacement cost of each unit of affordable housing the Barracksprovides. This document should be easy to read and available prior tothe next public fire station design meeting.

The common good objective is to present concerned citizens with avariety of thoughtful design options and the necessary historicalbackground from which to weave individual wills and special interestsinto the greater fabric of the common good. Ambiguity is no alley ofan effective and inclusive public process. Let us all honor all thehard work of so many people by establishing the institutional memorynecessary to build a firm foundation for civil civic engagement, thepreservation and restoration of affordable housing, and theconstruction of a much-needed new fire station in the Southside ofour great city.

Thank you for your time, and hard work.


*Citizens for Diverse Neighborhoods is not asking the City Councilto issue a directive on this issue, but simply to submit a formalwritten request