John Stark, Reporter
None of us are sleeping well out here on the island, as you might expect.
The most interesting phrase in the Press Release from the County regarding the docking exercise was: “this exercise is weather-dependent……”.
That statement grabbed me. My first thoughts were: Do our kids get to school weather-depending? Do all the people who work in town get to their jobs weather-depending? Do we get to the doctor or other appointments weather-depending? Do we get emergency medical treatment weather-depending? How about garbage pick-up, propane deliveries, fire and police assistance, power outages? You get the picture.
Bellingham Bay is notorious for rough weather conditions, and our little ferry is not up to the job unless the water is relatively flat. Our lives, kids, jobs, community and homes are on the line. The County has run a ferry to Lummi Island from Gooseberry Point since 1921. Most of us came here because the ferry access made it possible. We don’t know how we will survive without it, and never dreamed that we would have to face this possibility.
The County has mentioned passenger-only ferry service as an alternative. We are familiar with this because our boat goes out of service ever year for maintenance and we have a passenger ferry during this time. The planning and stocking-up that precedes this 2-3 week period is challenging. Everything heavy must be on the island in advance, and emergencies involving things like a broken refrigerator are not allowed. Groceries, business supplies, building materials, equipment, hay, animal feed, and even gas (we don’t have a gas station) must be stockpiled. We have the experience to know that a passenger-only ferry is not a solution to our problem, even in the short term. Been there, done that.–like every year.
We are all hoping for a break-through in negotiations with the Lummi Tribe. We know that there are mutually beneficial solutions that will preserve the integrity, well-being and safety of Islanders as well as the Lummis. We just have to find a way to work together to find them.
Thank you for your interest,