When I took office two years ago I committed to run the City with
respect, relationships and results. As we reflect on our many
accomplishments in the past year, those ideals stand out as key to our
successes. And continuing these principles will be essential to our work in
We’ve had many wonderful successes in 2013, with a particular emphasis on
economic development, caring for our natural resources, strengthening our
downtown, protecting public safety, and directing resources toward
priorities. Here are just a few:
Moving toward financial sustainability: I am pleased to
report that the 2014 budget adopted by the City Council in December moves us
further toward financial sustainability. The budget Council adopted aligns
revenues and expenses with City operations so that the General Fund remains
whole. The budget reflects community priorities, includes investments in
capital facilities, technology, our safety net, and increases public safety
Waterfront District plan approval: In 2013, our
partnership with the Port of Bellingham culminated in the adoption of the
Waterfront District plan, a set of agreements designed to help us clean up
and restore waterfront habitat and the shoreline, provide public access to
the water, and attract good-paying jobs. This project – which was underway
for many years – was a significant step for the City and the Port, and will
lay the groundwork for decades of waterfront cleanup and other improvements,
business development, and new parks and trails in our City’s center.
North end transportation improvements: Improvements at
the I-5/ Bakerview Road interchange are designed to nearly double traffic
capacity at this intersection. This project, completed in mid-November,
represents an impressive partnership among local and state agencies that
will result in cost effective, long-term safety and mobility benefits and
economic development opportunities, and lays the groundwork for regional
Completed construction projects promote public safety, improve
traffic flow: From the new Wharf Street Roundabout to Woburn Street
and beyond, we completed street expansions, pedestrian and bicycle safety
projects, repairs, resurfacing and other construction all over the City in
Grant secured for new firefighting and security vessel:
In partnership with the Port, the City recently was awarded $750,000 in
federal funding to purchase a boat designed to increase firefighting and
marine security capabilities on Bellingham’s waterfront.
Joint emergency management facility: The City, the Port
and Whatcom County are jointly leasing and occupying the Olympic
Coordination Center near the airport to consolidate emergency management,
preparedness and response operations and staff. Public agencies are working
in partnership with some of our major industrial neighbors, including BP and
Phillips 66, to use the emergency operations center for a unique
Emergency medical services: Our collaboration with
county officials resulted in a new agreement on a joint emergency medical
services system. The new system, which will be administered by Whatcom
County government, maintains existing service levels for City residents and
keeps the system operating within budget until the end of 2016.
These are just a few highlights from recent months that demonstrate our
commitment to moving forward on community priorities relying on my
principles of respect, relationships and results.
Here are just a few of the many important projects on our 2014 work plan:
Fostering our vibrant City Center: Three districts make
up our City Center: Downtown, Old Town and the Waterfront District. Several
efforts underway culminate in actions for these areas early in 2014
including action on our multi-year downtown planning effort. The Downtown
Plan is a community planning project designed identify and incentivize
downtown redevelopment and establish actions the community and its partners
can take over the next 10 years to continue to strengthen our downtown. The
legislative process for the Downtown Plan is underway, with City Council
expected to consider the plan early in the year.
Community and economic development initiatives: Action
steps recommended by two work groups will continue to move forward in 2014.
My Community Solutions Workgroup effort to address public health and safety
issues downtown and citywide will make recommendations this month, with many
of those actions incorporated into the Downtown Plan legislative process and
others to be initiated by the City and its partners in the months ahead.
Likewise, follow up this year on recommendations made in 2013 by the
Community Solutions on Affordable Housing Workgroup will help increase
affordable housing for all our residents. Another work group will be
initiated this spring, focusing additional attention on business climate and
economic development in Bellingham.
Parks improvements: Our many parks projects planned in
2014 include master planning and hosting a public process to name our newest
waterfront park. Currently referred to as Cornwall Beach Park, the park is
part of the waterfront redevelopment area south of the Cornwall Avenue and
Pine Street intersection near Wharf Street. Other priority parks
improvements include implementing the Squalicum Beach master plan, and
reprogramming Maritime Heritage Park to make it more attractive and usable
to a wider range of people. As we complete access to our park on Horton
Road, we also are taking steps to create an additional neighborhood park in
the Cordata area.
Protecting Lake Whatcom: Throughout 2014, we will
continue our joint actions with Whatcom County and the Lake Whatcom Water
and Sewer District, addressing invasive species, retrofitting City
infrastructure, and investing in incentives to reduce stormwater runoff on
Library services improvements: The 2014 budget includes
reinstating Sunday hours at the Bellingham Public Library during the school
year. These additional hours of service will begin in February, and is just
one of several ways we hope to support the library’s strategic goals this
year as we consider other service and facility improvements.
These are just a few accomplishments from 2013 and highlights of 2014.
These priorities and many more will be discussed in upcoming community
meetings, City Council sessions and other settings in the year ahead.
Two years in to my term as Mayor I have many things to be thankful for. I
work with more than 800 City employees who are top quality professionals
dedicated to delivering excellent public services. I collaborate with
elected officials and other leaders throughout our community, our region,
our state and our nation. I am honored to be Mayor of a city with a strong
sense of place, where people care about each other, care about their
community, and care about the legacy we leave for future generations.