Whatcom County Actions on Lummi Concerns

Pete Kremen sent in this document with a wealth of detailed information about what Whatcom County has done regarding the ferry, its location at Gooseberry Pt. and Lummi Nation concerns about reservation road safety over many years. Basically, the County Executive took the Lummi Nation’s Chronology of Events and inserted detailed information and comments at appropriate points in the chronology.

This enhanced ‘ferry chronology’ from Mr. Kremen provides us all with a much more complete picture of what has happened re: the ferry and lease over the years. It also offers a factual response to earlier articles and comments both  on the Ferry Forum and during numerous meetings and other venues about what “the County’ has or has not done with regard to concerns expressed by Lummi Nation and islanders regarding Gooseberry Point.

Thanks to our County Executive for taking the time to develop this improved chronology and share it with us.

PS My sincere apologies to all, and most especially to Pete, for not posting this document sooner. Pete emailed it on 3/11/2011 but somehow I missed seeing it in my inbox.

2 thoughts on “Whatcom County Actions on Lummi Concerns

  1. I got to wonderin’ at what point is it not worth staying at GP, at least in terms of money. Here are some rough and ragged figures I scratched out to help me think about it. They kinda surprised me, so I thought others might like to see them.

    Over 35 years, the LN wants: (M = millions)
    12M for the tidelands (200K / yr. with CPI @ 3% for 35 years )
    6M for the uplands (110K / yr. with CPI @ 3% for 35 years)
    8M for traffic safety
    4M for a marina
    Total = 30M

    The off-reservation options for a car ferry include downtown Bellingham, Fairhaven and Neptune Beach (the end of Slater Rd.). Since we will need a replacement ferry to continue at GP for another 35 years anyway, I will deduct the cost of a replacement GP ferry (at 10M) from the off-reservation calculations to show how much extra we would have to pay if we left GP.

    Downtown Bellingham from Beach: The feasibility study shows that the building of two new docks, purchasing the land in Bellingham and buying a new bigger boat would be 49M (between the low and high estimate). Minus the 10M GP ferry = 39M

    Fairhaven from Beach: Essentially the same as above because the Beach dock would have to be refit and a new dock built at Fairhaven (for permanent and regular daily service) and fees for using the facilities over 35 years would be about the same as buying land in Bellingham. But I am just guessing at the Fairhaven fees. So, lets say 39M

    Fairhaven from Smuggler’s Cove: The same as above except… a shorter run could reduce the size of the ferry saving maybe 4M, but the quarry and rights of way would have to be bought and roads built or widened and I have no idea how much that would cost… 8M? 15M? So my guess for this run would be about 42 – 49M

    Neptune from Beach: The ferry could be the size of the proposed 66 car Lummi Chief as mentioned in Jim’s ferry analysis costing 14M. All other things would be the same as a run to downtown Bellingham except the ferry would be cheaper by about 4M. So, it would be about 35M.

    Therefore, all other options would be more expensive over the next 35 years then it would be to give the LN the money and improvements they are asking for. It makes me wonder if the LN already did these calculations.

    But remember, after 35 years, it starts all over again and maybe we would have to move from GP at that point and lose all the infrastructure we built. Or, maybe we could just continue renting.

    In the long run, if we had off-reservation docks built and paid for, the cost of maintaining the docks would be the same as if we were at GP. The vessel, however, would be larger and cost more to run and maintain. So essentially, if the costs of operating and maintaining a larger vessel rather then a smaller one are more then the rent and other costs of staying at GP, then we are better to stay at GP. But if the O and M costs are less, we are better getting off the rez. I don’t know how much more it would cost to run a larger vessel rather then a smaller one. is it more then 30M in 35 years?

    But the elephant in the room is that the county does not have any of these amounts of money. If we are forced off the rez, the cheapest permanent solution of Neptune from Beach is 35M. If we paid for that ourselves over 35 years it would be about 1000 dollars per island resident per year, over and above the present costs. Is that the future price of living on the island?

    Would the LN lower their price if we were nice to them and they did not feel that we were making their roads unsafe? Anyone hungry?

  2. On the other hand, if the LN’s concerns really are about traffic safety and all the money they are asking for is to make improvements for safety, and we, the islanders who drive the cars that cause the safety concerns, are in control of those cars, then it is really us who are causing the potential for losing GP by causing unsafe conditions in the community that we drive through. If there were no safety concerns, if we ALL drove so slow that it was impossible to claim that there was any need for road improvements or traffic control devices or for the ferry to leave GP because of safety concerns, would that make a difference in the negotiations? Could we, as islanders who drive cars through the reservation, take away those safety concerns by driving slower and therefore take away the legitimacy of the claim for traffic safety?

    I know, the traffic safety study showed that the ferry traffic did not significantly contribute to the accidents on the reservation. But at this point it is about public perception and public relations, and it is about the possibility of losing GP because of driving too fast on the reservation.

    What if we had our own public relations campaign on safety and we ALL drove so ridiculously slow through GP and up Haxton Way that the LN could no longer bring that issue to the negotiation table. We could print out “I DRIVE SLOW TO STAY AT GP” on a piece of paper and put it in our car windows. Would that make a difference? Would the dinner be the time and place for us to pledge safer driving? Could that be our central message as an island?

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