Dealing with Change

From Pat Hayes:  To my friends and neighbors on Lummi Island;

I would like ferry service to Lummi and Gooseberry to remain the same; frequent crossings and fares that I’ve adapted to, even though they’ve gone up significantly in the last few years.  I, like all Islanders, have scheduled everything I do off-island with these limitations in mind.

But no matter what the County and Tribe decide in February, that familiar, comfortable service will change.  In the best outcome—continued crossing between Lummi Island and Gooseberry Point—there  is the likelihood of less frequent runs and the certainty of increased fares.  There is the possibility of a short-term lease with frequent renegotiations required. 

I do not want to face this kind of a crisis again in five months or in five years.  I do not want to finance through my taxes and fares a multi-million dollar debt for less service than we get now for an indefinite period of time.

Nor do I want to win the right to dock at Gooseberry Point because of some expensive legal decision that leaves the Lummi Nation’s position in defeat.  I want to cross Indian land in confidence that both sides of this issue are in accord.

We wait and watch while secret negotiations are taking place (or not) between our officials and another sovereign nation.  I would like to be dealing with entities that we elect and that are both bound by the same laws.

For these reasons, I have come to feel that for all the major adjustments that will be required, the trip to Fairhaven is a good, long-term alternative for getting us to the mainland.

We have heard many reasons why the crossing of Bellingham Bay is longer and more dangerous than crossing Hales Passage.  With appropriate boats—one for passengers only, quick, safe, stable; and a ferry for trucks and cars properly scheduled—most of the problems can be met.   There are schools in Bellingham, and I suspect that for everyone who is negatively impacted by the trip to Fairhaven, there are others who will find advantages. We are very lucky to have this alternative.

I do wish our ferry service to continue as we’ve become used to it…and I encourage our negotiators to come up with a plan very close to what we’ve had.  But being realistic, I know changes are coming and I encourage us to continue to imagine new solutions to the problem of getting people to the mainland and back to the island safely.

5 thoughts on “Dealing with Change

  1. As I have said to Pat, I say here, I think that for many people, perhaps most of us, a ferry to Fairhaven is not a good solution. This is particularly true for the elderly, like Jerry and me. As we age we need to have available an efficient emergency exit from the island. Fairhaven is too far, and I am not sure that we can afford the expense of keeping a car in Fairhaven.

    I had hoped that Jerry and I could live here in the house that both of us have worked to make ours for the rest of our lives. I am not ready to throw in the towel. If others are, and that’s what happens, I guess I’ll just look for another place to live.

    There is one thing I am sure of. If all we want is to be able to have intermittent service to Fairhaven, we don’t need to pay lawyers and publicists. Fairhaven is a fall back position, and that’s what we will get with no help from lawyers.

  2. Thank you Pat (and response by Anne) for your thoughts. Pat put into well written words a sentiment I have had from the beginning….I too only want to cross Lummi Nation land with a feeling of confidence that we are not unwelcome. I would also like a long term solution. No one can know for sure that these conditions will be met at the hands of our trusted lawyers. All I can do is hope….a pretty vulnerable place for us all to be.

  3. Hi Anne,

    I agree Fairhaven would be a bad “change” for many Islanders, especially those with medical conditions. I was so happy to hear that Bob Busch and some PLIC representatives went to the County meeting. Bob presented the severe negative impacts a Fairhaven docking would have for those in emergency medical situations.

    Yes, if we had left it up to the County, the default would be to “just” switch docking to Fairhaven on Feb 14. We wouldn’t have needed PLIC lawyers, it would have been a “done deal.” It sounded like the County Executive had given up on even holding negotiations with the Lummi Nation – or to do it in a way where nobody would feel “defeated” as Pat says. Like Pat, I think most of us can agree we’d like to see a “win-win” negotiation strategy with our neighbors.

    I’m not a PLIC representative, but here’s a cut/paste from one of the PLIC updates. It seems unlikely that these lawyers engaged by PLIC would be working toward using Fairhaven as a viable alternative, short or long term…

    “PLIC’s immediate goal is to encourage development of a temporary County-Tribal operating agreement that would allow the ferry to continue docking at Gooseberry Point after February 14, 2010. PLIC’s attorneys have been meeting with the County Executive and County Attorney for this purpose.”

    Let’s look forward to hearing PLIC’s lawyers give their legal opinion soon. And like you said in one of your earlier posts, the “silence from the County has been deafening!” With the deadline approaching, I know everyone is on pins and needles about what Feb 14 will be like.

    For starters, we’d like to know WHERE TO PARK our mainland vehicle on Feb 13th! Keeping our fingers crossed that it will be on Gooseberry Pt!

    Your friend, Cathy Thompson

  4. Yes, there are those of us who can adapt to drastically reduced and unreliable ferry service to Fairhaven.
    My concern is for those who are in fragile health, families with children, people who commute to work everyday, island business owners, and untold others who depend on reliable access to the mainland (that doesn’t involved 2 or more hours per day). If these folks were to leave, those of us left could get a little lonely.
    I want to find ways to be responsive to the Lummi’s concerns regarding traffic and congestion caused by the ferry. I also want to work with the Tribe in identifying how our presence on their land can be an asset to them, rather than a problem. I suspect that we can be of help to each other in ways that haven’t been fully explored, yet.

  5. Although we dont yet know how the negotiations Friday have turned out, i have been hoping for at least an extension of the lease. Even 3-5 years would be enough time to prepare, 15 days is not enough.

    I fear the change of dock location would negatively affect the businesses and already small job market on the island. This would impact many families and lessen the population, causing many of our close friends and neighbors to have to start looking elsewhere to live. I myself fear loosing childhood friends to the impending change.

    If we can extend the contract another 3-5 years we will be blessed. With that time i believe the island, in all its community strength will be able to find solutions.

    the island community should be resourceful enough to set up a more self sustaining community with more small businesses. If there was a larger job market on the island it would lessen the need for some people to find jobs in town. Hopefully it would help the middle to lower class beable to continue to live on the island with less of a burden from the proposed ferry schedule and prices.

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