Deadline Extended, Progress in Ferry Negotiations

Both the Lummi Nation and Whatcom county officials announced that they have made substantial progress in today’s deliberations and that negotiations are continuing.  Lummi Nation has agreed to extend the deadline to complete negotiations to May 15th.  This evening, the Bellingham Herald’s Whatcom County Politics Blog released statements from both parties.

Click to read the Herald’s story:

Also, PLIC emailed the following update on the subject:

In a conversation late tonight with Whatcom County Executive Pete Kremen, by telephone to Mexico where he is vacationing, he affirmed:
–Today’s bargaining session went well;
–Both parties feel they are “very close” to an agreement on a long-term lease for Lummi Island ferry service;
–County Council will receive a briefing next Tuesday from County Atty Dan Gibson about today’s session and where the negotiation stands…they will meet in executive session (closed to the public).
–Another session between the Whatcom County negotiating team (Gibson, Council Chair Sam Crawford, Councilmen Bill Knutzen and Ken Mann, and Public Works Director Frank Abart) and the Lummi Indian Business Council (LIBC) will take place next Wednesday morning, April 13, at the County Courthouse.

LIBC Chair Cliff Cultee did not participate in today’s session because he was out of town. Kremen will still be on vacation next week, but plans to remain in close touch throughout that day, as he did today.

* * *

Though he was Mexico, and scheduled to cut his vacation short and fly home this weekend had Lummi Nation not extended the deadline for ceasing ferry operations (LIBC announced a May 15 date as a deadline for obtaining an agreement), Kremen participated in today’s session by long-distance input.

“I wanted Dan (Gibson) and Sam (Crawford) to keep me apprised during each break, and was pleased that they wanted my input. I was pretty involved throughout the day,” Kremen said. “The fact that Lummi Nation extended the deadline for negotiating was a sign of good will, and a strong indicator that progress was being made.

“I’m encouraged, and firmly believe we are moving along in the right direction, much closer to resolution.”

You can read the Lummi Nation news release from this evening at this link to a repository site for all ferry-related documents:

An article in The Bellingham Herald reported on today’s events. The link:

* * *

Richard Jefferson, the Lummi Nation director of planning who sits on the governing Council, stated: “Substantial progress has been made in negotiations toward the Nation’s goal of making traffic conditions safer for everyone. And negotiations are continuing.”

Crawford said the parties are “very, very close….we continue to make progress in terms of coming to a compensation for the lease that is agreeable to the tribe and the county. I’m very optimistic.”

Councilman Mann wrote on his Facebook page tonight: “We are getting closer to a deal… Thanks to the Lummi Nation for removing the deadline and relieving some of the anxiety felt by the Islanders.”

* * *

The Lummi Nation news release made no mention of their proposed marina project. Jefferson, at a dinner for Lummi Islanders hosted by Lummi Nation last week, described at great length and detail his and the LIBC’s vision and plans for a luxury marina for use not only by the Nation’s fishing boats but also for sport fishing. He spoke of the necessity of Whatcom County as a partner in obtaining additional funding, and to compensate for the “impact” of the ferry dock and operation on the marina if permits are obtained to build it at Gooseberry Point.

Jefferson said the County had been creative, even “ingenious,” in arriving at some immediate and long-term solutions to the Nation’s No. 1 priority — road and traffic improvements to enhance safety on Haxton Way where ferry traffic flows. He concluded that coming to terms on payment toward the proposed marina was the only hurdle remaining in negotiations.

* * *

The planned PLIC all-community meeting for tomorrow night (April 7) has been cancelled; it was set for contingency planning in case of a change in ferry service on Monday, but LIBC lifted the deadline for ceasing operations to Gooseberry Point and set May 15 as the target date for having an agreement in place.

The regularly-scheduled monthly PLIC all-community meeting will take place Wednesday, April 20, at the Grange Hall, starting at 6:30 p.m.

If you know anyone who would like to receive this periodic newsletter/updates, please send us their email address or have them write to us at

Thank you for staying the course.
Mike McKenzie on behalf of the PLIC Board of Directors

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