Bellingham Port Commissioner Michael McAuley has offered some thought-provoking perspective in an email message triggered by the recent public debate over whether to save the port-owned Granary Building on the waterfront.
McAuley forwarded his thoughts to me and several other people after last week’s announcement that the port has agreed to give private developers an opportunity to offer proposals for re-use of the Granary as part of the larger effort to get projects under way at the north end of the old Georgia-Pacific Corp. property that has been owned by the port since 2005.
McAuley used the Granary issue as a starting point for some observations on what it will take to make waterfront redevelopment a reality in the years ahead:
“I am all for adaptive reuse – if you spend five minutes looking at my bonepile you will see my optimism. But, there comes a point where the bone pile is just a pile and it has no value above what a scrap hauler will pay.
“I was asked by Whatcom County voters to move forward and I will work to that end.
“I believe that the few remaining structures on the old GP land could create a solid historic district but it doesn’t happen in a vacuum by a few loud voices crying out for results. This effort is big, millions and millions of dollars big. The kind of big that takes real effort not just drive-by sniping that your commissioners aren’t doing the people’s work.
“So let’s not just throw out ideas. I do that constantly and I have learned a hard lesson that the people who will make my ideas reality need a little more than my random thoughts and vague direction.
“So, for all that, I call on all of you who see the bigger picture on our waterfront to join in or remain engaged in making the next steps happen. We already have the idea now let’s do the really hard work and put it into play.
“Thank you all for your engagement and effort. “