At last night’s meeting of the Lummi Island Ferry Advisory Committee (LIFAC), committee members and islanders heard some good news from Rob Ney (Public Works): the County has begun Phase I of its required due diligence in considering whether or not acquiring the Hiyu is a viable option to consider.
In January 2015, the County entered into a contract with Elliott Bay Design Group (thanks Phil L for clarification) to assess the degree to which the Hiyu is compatible with other essential ferry system infrastructure (e.g. docks). This is good news for all those who have expressed an interest in the Hiyu as a possible replacement for the Whatcom Chief, and an essential part of what the County is required legally to do before moving forward. We also heard from Rob that he had learned that the state’s best estimate for surplussing the Hiyu is mid-2015, leaving considerably more time for due diligence than some have feared was available. Whether PW will move to Phase 2 of their due diligence presumably depends on the findings of Phase 1.
LIFAC, after entertaining public comments for an extended period, discussed pros and cons of forwarding the most recent draft (dated Feb. 3, 2015) of its Ferry Replacement subcommittee report to the County. Greg Brown, one of two LIFAC members on the subcommittee (Stu Clark is the other), moved to forward the report ‘as is’. The motion was seconded and a lively discussion ensued, covering many issues. Everyone acknowledged and thanked all those involved in producing the report for their hard work and information gathered.
It became clear that LIFAC members were mixed on whether or not they should forward the Feb. 3 draft (which has and will not be released to the general public) ‘as is’ to the County. Eventually, the motion was voted on but failed to pass, as the required 4-vote majority was not obtained (2 “ayes”, 3 “nays”, one abstain. For technical reasons, Stu Clark was not permitted to vote last night).
That vote does not mean that the report is ‘dead’ or in any way wasted effort. Before the meeting close, Chair Mike McKenzie asked and LIFAC agreed that he and Greg would work to prepare another revision, with the goal of developing a report that LIFAC as a whole could agree to send to Public Works, to assist them in their due diligence regarding the Hiyu.
Very understandably, subcommittee members and those supporting them were keenly disappointed that LIFAC didn’t approve sending their Feb. 3 draft report to the County. However, it seems extremely likely (I’m guessing inevitable) that LIFAC will soon have a version that the required majority will approve sending to Public Works in the near future. (Such revisions are a typical and useful part of the process by which citizen advisory committees, the County Council and Public Works generally develop reports of this sort.)