At a joint meeting of City Council and the Port of Bellingham commission the announcement was made of a slimmed-down plan for a redeveloped central waterfront.
Of course the plan won’t be finalized until fall, but some key changes from earlier proposals seem to be:
• Postponement of the port’s beloved plan to have a marina inside the old Georgia-Pacific Corp. waste water treatment lagoon.
• The demolition of the Granary Building, which historic preservation advocates hoped to restore, it’s just to costly.
• Elimination of a proposed “Log Pond Park” along the shoreline between the old G-P pier and the port’s shipping terminal, so the area can be developed as a waterfront industrial job source.
• Indefinite postponement of relocation of BNSF Railway Co. tracks that now cut through the site.
• Indefinite postponement of a new Cornwall Avenue railroad bridge to link downtown to the waterfront.
• Commercial Street bridge, once thought of as a late-stage project, could be built somewhat sooner than envisioned in previous plans, (no dates were offered for the estimated $30 million project.)
The grand vision of the downtown redevelopment was began in the boom times of 2005, the city had revenue and the economic engine was churning, well times have changed, scaled down and slowed down.
The port and city seem to be working together on this plan, and the conflicts over key issues by the two entities appear to have been resolved.
But the plan still faces a long and windy road ahead including public hearings before the Planning Commission, followed by City Council review.
Port Environmental Director Mike Stoner made it clear that the port still wants to see a marina as part of the plan.
If all goes well, the first phase of the waterfront re-development could be done by the end of 2015 and would include:
• a new street link where the Granary now stands
• turning the existing Central Avenue into a bike and pedestrian route;
• cleanup and redevelopment of the Cornwall Avenue landfill site as a new park, complete with an over-water walkway to Boulevard Park.
area for light, marine-related industry indefinitely, instead of designating it for eventual conversion to commercial, office and residential use.