More Gooseberry Pt. Parking!

Below is Pete Kremen’s response to Nancy Ging’s email about our dry dock parking problems:

From: Pete Kremen <pkremen@co.whatcom.wa.us>
Date: Fri, Sep 2, 2011 at 5:19 PM
Subject: Re: Where Do We Park?
To: nancy@turtlehome.com
Cc: Council@co.whatcom.wa.us, Frank Abart <FAbart@co.whatcom.wa.us>

Nancy,
I have just received another very firm verbal confirmation that parking will be available at the usual area, free of charge for dry dock.  This confirmation came from Diana Bob, legal representative for the LIBC.   I hope this provides assurance that Lummi Islanders will be able to utilize the usual areas for parking during this annual event.

Best wishes for a enjoyable holiday weekend.
Sincerely,
Pete

>>> Nancy Ging sent the following email to Pete Kremen on 09/02/11 3:52 PM …..

Dear Pete,
It usually takes several days of long ferry lines for people to get their cars moved over to the mainland before drydock. The County will not be openfor business again until Tuesday–the day before drydock. By the time staff get into the office on Tuesday and figure out whether the Lummis will come through with the promised parking (for nearly 100 cars), there will be less than one day to let Lummi Islanders know where to put their cars–Gooseberry or Ferndale Park N Ride. It will be physically impossible to get cars moved to the correct location in less than one day.

I can’t stress enough that it is URGENT for us to know which parking arrangement we should plan on. Otherwise there are going to be huge problems on Tuesday.
PLEASE make the final parking plans today so there is time for people to be notified and get their cars to the appropriate destination.
Regards,
Nancy Ging
Lummi Island
758-2529

8 thoughts on “More Gooseberry Pt. Parking!

  1. I suspect if the county approves the proposed Gooseberry Point ferry dock lease agreement with the LIBC we can expect another 35 years of this stress and anxiety. Do we want to saddle our children and grandchildren to this? Another reason why I, as an islander and county property tax payer am against it.

    • I agree, John, and am also against the proposed lease because is not part of a comprehensive, well thought out and long range plan for our ferry needs. These last minute arrangements by the county and lack of cooperation from LIBC are most likely will be par for the course if the lease is signed as is. If a lease for the tidelands is signed, parking space for use during drydock and the rest of the year should be included. But that seems unlikely given the resistance by the LIBC to the extra space for drydock parking this year, and we are likely to face this scenario and worse in the years to come. The LIBC, tribe, reservation, Gooseberry Point and the island have all change dramatically since the ferry first started running and we may have reached the tipping point where G.P. no longer works for our situation. Unless parking is included in a market value based G.P. lease, I could not support it.

      The lack of control over what happen at our current mainland landing has always been part of my argument for leaving Gooseberry Point in favor of Fairhaven or Bellingham. It seems like a trivial matter when discussing it in January, but it becomes critical as it plays out. When we consider non-Gooseberry Point options, please remember how weighty this factor is in the equation. All change is difficult. Bigger and better options are usually more expensive initially, but worth it in the long run.

    • I, also, do not believe the County Council should accept the proposed lease; it is full of ambiguities that will continue the dissention and uncertainty which has been our way of life for the last two years. In addition, the lease is based on a myriad of legal assumptions that might well not be correct. These questions should be openly addressed before a lease is entered.

      If the lease is signed as it is presented, “the Parties . . . resolve. . . all disputes between them that have arisen or could have arisen regarding the County’s operation of the Lummi Island ferry from the Gooseberry Point facilities between February 14, 1985 and the date of execution of this Agreement.” (Page 3, last paragraph onto page 4 of proposed Intergovernmental Framework Agreement between the Lummi Nation and Whatcom County)

      Possible claims which the County might relinquish include, but are not limited to: (1) The tribe’s position that the second 25 years of the 1988 lease are null and void is invalid. (2) A legal BIA- and tribal-approved right of way exists and a lease may, therefore, not be required. (3) The tribe’s acceptance of payment of property by the County for the 1st 25 years of the 1988 lease binds the tribe to its acceptance of the entirety of that lease. (4) Title searches demonstrate that there are no tribally-owned uplands within the “staging area for the County ferry operation lying between the County road known as Haxton Road or Lummi View Drive and the tidelands south of that upland area.” And, (5) Penalties may be incurred by the tribe for accepting payment for a lease for which there was not BIA approval or on which the tribe reneged.

      In addition, wiping the slate clean would forever take away the county’s right to re-open the Consent Decree, an act which could bring the Tribe back to federal court on a charge that it did not comply with that Decree in entering and executing a 50 year ferry lease.

      The transparency promised by both the Tribe and the County require that, at the least, the above questions and many additional ones should be answered publicly before the lease is signed.

      • I’d like to clarify that I do not consider Fairhaven a viable option for our mainland ferry dock. Rather, I strongly urge that it is time for the State, the Federal Government, Congress and the Court systems to help determine a fair and legal way to keep the dock at Gooseberry. An objective, third party is required.

  2. I can appreciate both John and Klayton’s dissatisfactions with lease. We all have them. But, going back to start– repeating the last 2 years of stress, conflict and insecurity gives me hives (and worse).
    The lease is not binding for 35 years. As it is written, we can develop alternatives to Gooseberry Point, terminate the lease and get to the mainland in a different manner in the future.
    What approval of the lease will do is buy us time, allowing us to survive as a community until we can develop something that serves us better. We need time (first) to put together alternatives, plans and funding. AND we need a ferry situation that we can rely on while we are making this happen.
    If you agree with me on this, please call and email every Whatcom County Councilmember immediately and ask them to approve the lease.

    We really do need an interim agreement, and the Council needs to hear from those of us who support it—now. They will be voting on it soon.

    • I initially shared Colleen’s perspective that the proposed lease should be considered an interim solution. Because of the timing of the infrastructure payments, though, I no longer hold that perspective. The lease is structured such that it will never be in the County’s financial interest to exit.

      If I remember correctly, $2MM infrastructure payments are due in each of years 2, 6, and 15. The first payment, and maybe even the second, would be unavoidable because of the time required to develop an alternative. The front-loaded infrastructure payments dramatically influence rolling calculations of the lease’s net present value. Basically, the lease will look relatively cheap after $2MM balloon payments in years 2 and 6, and this will create lock-in.

      Also, any GB alternative would require a dramatically different vessel (Jim has done some enlightening work on capacity requirements across different routes). Because of travel time, the Whatcom Chief cannot handle traffic volume along any route other than Island->GB. To avoid the year 6 infrastructure payment, the County would have to financially commit to a replacement vessel in the near future. This might make sense, but liquidity and timing issues might make it impossible. By year 6, though, the County will have already spent $5.2MM to support the lease. Going forward, the lease will look relatively cheap.

      I think we need to evaluate the lease assuming that the infrastructure payments force lock-in to Gooseberry Point. It is dangerous to conceive of the proposed lease as a way to buy time or generate flexibility. In fact, the front-loaded lease payments will burn through the cash required to buy a vessel that would allow flexibility.

      In the end, I think there are 3 options:

      1/ Accept the lease, recognizing that the County will pay an average of $370K per year for 35 years. We still won’t have a long-term solution, and there is no provision for parking.

      2/ Instantly begin planning on a vessel/dock combination different from the present system. This could give the County complete control over the system, eliminating many of the current complexities. It would require major capital investment in the very near term, and it’s not clear what the transition would look like.

      3/ Reject the lease with the intent to continue going to GB, hoping that things work out once the legal dust settles. If things don’t work out, we’d probably end up back in (1) or (2), under worse terms and with less control. But if things did work out, we would have a relatively low cost solution and long-term stability.

      (3) has both the highest and lowest potential costs, and it might not provide any stability until things have moved through the court system. (1) provides stability for 35 years, and complete uncertainty after that. (2) could be very expensive in the short-run, but could completely eliminate long-run uncertainty.

      Without cost and time estimates for alternatives, I don’t know where I stand on the lease, but I am convinced that the proposed lease precludes flexibility. Approving the lease means indefinitely committing the County to Gooseberry Point.

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