Still Lacking: Solid Proposal for Plattsburg Ferry

The “Let’s purchase the Plattsburg ferry to replace the Whatcom Chief” idea has been discussed for years, but I have never yet seen a complete well-written (easy to read & understand) proposal that includes reasonably detailed, signed & dated costs estimates from all vendors on all major aspects of (purchase price, specific modifications, transport etc) re: the Plattsburg ferry..

No one has ever sent the Ferry Forum a complete proposal.  The 2011 Ferry Task Force included some information on alternative ferry options in an appendix, but no proposal. No proposal is on the LIFAC website, either.  There’s been lots of talk, energy, even some written materials, re: personal, private phone conversations ‘documenting’ this & that alternative ferry costs. That’s fine, but it’s not a viable proposal.

If anyone ever sends me a complete, well-written, fully documented proposal with *all* costs for an alternative ferry, I’ll add it to the Whatcom County Ferry Documents Archive, with posts and links from the Ferry Forum and NextDoor LI. 

But … my offer extends only to complete proposals.  I will not, for example, post a ‘proposal’ that includes only names and contact information for those who provide verbal estimates over the phone. 

I made my living for decades as a scientist, doing projects that I funded via grant proposals I wrote to very, very critical audiences who made the decisions about how to spend federal tax dollars.  Sales rhetoric, while important, was never, ever sufficient to convince those ‘deciders’ to give me the $$$ for my ‘absolutely obvious, very, very important’ projects.  

I not only had to make out detailed budgets (including cost of inflation & recurring maintenance over the years of funding), but also I had to spell out potential problems with my ‘great idea’ — and how I would solve them if/when they came up. The ‘deciders’ weren’t naive; they knew problems would come up.  Proposal-writing was strenuous and time-consuming (minimally 30% annually of a 50-70 hr wk job) but I was always competing with many other scientists for the same funds. I had to show, for each and every proposal, why mine should be ranked high enough to be funded. Sometimes I got the funds, sometimes not.  Not every proposal, no matter how passionate or convinced its , advocate, succeeded. (Talk about being an entrepreneur!) 

But I had basically no chance without a sturdy, well-written (logical and easy to follow) and fully documented proposal.

I think we’re in similar situation with the Plattsburg (or any other) alternative ferry idea. The Plattsburg may seem like a ‘no brainer’ to its passionate advocates, but that won’t convince county ‘deciders’. Those ‘deciders’ (Public Works, County Executive, etc) have reviewed and rejected the evidence they’ve seen and gathered at least twice that I know of. They won’t (and shouldn’t, IMO) take more of their time for another look without much sounder, much more solid, more objective and more convincingly presented reasons. Just pushing again without new, solidly documented written reasons will just create, counterproductively IMO, stronger resistance to the idea. 


One thought on “Still Lacking: Solid Proposal for Plattsburg Ferry

  1. I always enjoy reading how people think the Whatcom Chief is worn out. I don’t believe vessels wear out. Men just choose to “divorce” them and look for younger ones. The predecessor of the Whatcom Chief is the the Chief Kwina, starting service in 1929. She still ply’s the waters of the Puget Sound, as a commercial fish buying boat. The Chief Kwina’s predecessor was the Carlisle II, built on Lane Spit on Lummi Island in 1917. She is still in active service as a Kitsap County Passenger ferry, making daily runs between Bremerton and Port Orchard, The truly fun part here is to watch all the “grounds for divorce” that those wishing to get rid of the Whatcom Chief come up with. They don’t have an easy task. The USS Constitution, also know as “Old Ironsides”, was commissioned by George Washington in 1797. She is still a commissioned US Navy warship, stationed in Boston harbor, and annually takes a salute from the fleet. I wish those wanting to “divorce” the Whatcom Chief the best of luck. I will just continue to observe.

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