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.