Position Opens up on Lummi Island Ferry Advisory Committee

The Chair of the county-appointed Lummi Island Citizen Advisory Committee (LIFAC) has announced that Bob Busch resigned his position on the LIFAC. The opening and application form are posted on the County Council website. The remaining partial term expires 1/31/2016. The position could be filled by County Council with either an island resident or a non-resident.

First and foremost,  great thanks to Bob Busch for volunteering to serve on LIFAC since its inception in 2012. His commitment to serving Lummi Islanders and the County in this and many other ways is an admirable example of the kind of person who has helped make the Lummi Island community so remarkable. 

 My hope for his replacement. I really, really really hope that someone will apply who has a deep and abiding fervor for and skill at keeping LIFAC communications freely flowing.  While LIFAC has worked hard on many issues, the fact is that only those who attend their meetings (not feasible for most people) have any chance to find out what’s going on in a timely manner. While meeting minutes and some LIFAC documents are eventually published on the county’s LIFAC website, backlogs of months are common  As of today, May 18 2015, minutes from their January 6, 2015 meeting are the most recent ones posted, and NO documents (like the report on the Hiyu) have been posted.  While it’s apparently ‘legal’ to have regular 4-month+ delays in publishing their minutes, it’s  dysfunctional from the perspective of respectful communications with their fellow citizens, as it leaves hearsay and the often needlessly contentious and misleading rumor mill as the only way for most people to find out hear what LIFAC is up to. 
For various reasons I cannot volunteer for this position, but I sincerely hope that someone will step forward who is willing and able help facilitate complete and timely LIFAC communications in the future.

Ferry Financial Report 2014

This is the all-important Public Works Ferry Ops Financial Report 2014 – Final that Rob Ney (of Public Works) presented to the County Council PW committee yesterday (April 14, 2015). Mike McKenzie forwarded quickly to islanders. Mike’s email below includes his summary of two main take-away messages.  (note: Bill Fox posted a full audio (11of the meeting in a DropBox account on NextDoor Lummi Island. I think that you can listen if you, too, have a DropBox account: https://www.dropbox.com/s/6nlgn0v32c8qy88/Public%20Works%20Comm%20April%2014%202015.mp3?dl=0)

email from Mike McKenze, April 15, 2015

Rob Ney, the ferry operations manager, and his Public Works staff financial rep presented and explained and answered questions about this report to the County Council’s Public Works, Health and Safety Committee yesterday afternoon (Tue, April 14).

That committee comprises Barbara Brenner (chair), Pete Kremen, and Ken Mann. Other council members who attended were Rud Browne, newly-appointed Sidpal Sidhu, and Carl Weimer.

Greg Brown and I from the Lummi Island Ferry Advisory Committee (LIFAC) were present.

County Executive Jack Louws also responded to some of the Council’s questions.

This is the documentation that LIFAC has waited for since submitting a proposal for some selected fare reductions last December. Public Works, at the Council’s request, held up responding to our proposal until it had this report that was completed in late March.

Two significant takeaways:

More than 80% of expenditures in 2014 — more than $2 million of the roughly $2.45 spent fell in two categories — salaries and benefits, and rental of the Whatcom Chief and “space” (meaning, the large monthly payment to the Lummi Nation per the ferry contract). Expenditures were lower than 2013, fares and traffic were up, and the surcharge chart appears favorable to possible fare reductions.

Rob Ney has submitted dates to host an April work session with LIFAC, which will cover the goals for arriving at consideration for fare reductions, in addition to other goals that PW has for ferry operations (the most prominent of which is setting a specific plan for ferry replacement and funding — a topic that also came up yesterday afternoon.)

This meeting will be held downtown, and will be open to the public and subject to open-records and normal LIFAC meeting procedures and compliance. We’ll notify the public the moment the meeting date and time get set.

Lummi Island Ferry Long Range Planning

The recent news about the Lummi Nation moving ahead with plans to develop a marina at Gooseberry Pt makes it even more important to work on long-range planning issues.

LIFAC’s long range planning subcommittee (Byron Moye, Chuck Antholt, LIFAC members, plus island volunteers) will meet Tuesday Feb 17, 2015, at 630 PM in the Hanson Room of the Island Library.  Meetings are open to the public.  (for details, click on Continue reading

Gooseberry Pt Marina and Ferry Dock Planning

The Bellingham Herald posted this story about the Lummi Nation contacting the County about their moving forward with plans for a marina at Gooseberry Pt, which has implications for changes to the Lummi Island Ferry’s mainland dock. For those who wish to read or re-read the lease, this 2011 November Ferry Forum article has links to the Gooseberry Pt lease documents.  (Some more discussion of their plans is on p. 69 (p. 35 in the pdf) in the Lummi Nation 2014 Annual Report.)
Thursday, February 12, 2015
 Email from Mike McKenzie, Chair of Lummi Island Ferry Advisory Committee

County Executive Jack Louws passed this message through LIFAC re: the letter from Lummi leader Tim Ballew about County preparing to shift the ferry dock at Gooseberry Point:

1. Lummi Nation asked only for what the ferry service contract calls for — moving dolphins and entry to the dock. (Not leaving Gooseberry. See p. 3 of contract.)
2. The marina plan has been known for a long time. This is neither a surprise nor a threatening matter.
3. Parties estimate this to take from 4-6 years to complete.
4. County staff is initiating appropriate planning immediately, as requested.
4. Mr. Louws will visit Lummi Island to discuss thoroughly, probably in late March, early April.
5. Remain calm. “We need to respond appropriately, but not over-react. This is a marathon, and we’re in the first 100th of a mile. You know what happens if you sprint out to start a marathon. We’ll deal with this thoroughly, efficiently, and fairly, and both parties will meet obligations of the contract.”
Further, Rob Ney, the ferry operations manager in Public Works, committed to giving a full report on County’s plans for his department re: the Lummi letter at the monthly public LIFAC meeting,  Tuesday, March 10, 6:30 p.m. at the Congregational Church fellowship hall (basement).
Both gentlemen are out of the office — Mr. Louws for two weeks, and Mr. Ney for one week.

Lummi Island FAC Feb. 3 Meeting: Due Diligence on Hiyu Moves Forward

At last night’s meeting of the Lummi Island Ferry Advisory Committee (LIFAC), committee members and islanders heard some good news from Rob Ney (Public Works): the County has begun Phase I of its required due diligence in considering whether or not acquiring the Hiyu is a viable option to consider. Continue reading

PLIC Input to LIFAC about Ferry Replacement Report

Rhayma Blake, president of the PLIC Board, asked to post this about what they submitted to LIFAC today, including survey results, concerning the Ferry Replacement Subcommittee’s report re: possibly replacing the Whatcom Chief with the Hiyu and keeping the Chief as a backup vessel. Thanks to the PLIC Board for their continued effort to listen to islanders’ obviously varied opinions. Job very well done.


—–Forwarded Message—–
From: Rhayma Blake <rhayma@me.com>
Sent: Feb 2, 2015 6:28 PM
To: Wynne Lee <wynnelee@earthlink.net>
Subject: For Ferry Forum
The PLIC Board of Directors has sent a letter complete with the survey results to LIFAC recommending that they forward the Lummi Island Replacement and Options Report to Whatcom County Public Works for their review. We thank all those who participated in the process for your thoughtful comments and input at the PLIC Annual Meeting and on the survey. You can read the letter and report at http://plicferry.org/wp-content/uploads/…

Guest Post – Comments to LIFAC about Ferry Replacement Hiyu Report and Recommendations

Editor’s note In this guest post, Beth Louis shares her comments to LIFAC about the Ferry Replacement Subcommittee’s January 3rd draft report and recommendations re: acquiring the Hiyu (links are at end).  Beth’s long-time profession was in public transportation management. She was a part-time resident of Lummi Island for years and moved  here full time ~1 year ago.  Beth is on LIFAC’s long-range planning sub-committee, attends LIFAC meetings regularly and recently joined the PLIC Board. (Her comments are part of the public record, like all written input to LIFAC.)

Beth’s summary comment:

“The Sub-Committee should be commended for the effort and detailed work put into the Report to gather information about ferry replacement options.  It serves as a good starting point for discussion about how and when the Whatcom Chief should be replaced.  The Report makes clear that there is an opportunity to acquire a used replacement ferry and strongly conveys the benefits for pursuing the Hiyu.

However, without a comprehensive comparison of benefits, dis-benefits and costs and a discussion of trade-offs between acquiring a used boat with a similar life span to the Chief vs. keeping the Chief and beginning the process for funding and acquiring a new boat, it is not possible to make an informed decision about which ferry replacement option is the most financially and operationally suited to County budgets and ferry users needs.

The information collected by the Technical Sub-committee could be passed on to the County for their information and use in evaluating a ferry replacement option, but until additional data is provided, including a true assessment of costs, their impact on fares and a funding plan, it is not appropriate to forward a recommendation that the Hiyu be acquired at this time.  I have submitted the attached comments to LIFAC based on the Report entitled “Acquisition of the M/V Hiyu From Washington State Ferries for Use at Lummi Island” released by the Technical Sub-Committee on January 3, 2015.”

Part 1 of  HIYU Report 01032015 comments Walukas-Louis 1 (overview)

Part 2 of HIYU Report 01032015 comments Walukas-Louis 2 (detailed table)

Editor’s note 2.  I’ve heard there’s an updated version / draft of the subcommittee report, but LIFAC has chosen not to make that  available to the public until after their February 3, 2015 meeting at which they will discuss and vote on what to do next. That means that commenters can respond only to what’s in the draft report released on January 3, 2015.


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