Lake Whatcom Water & Sewer District Commissioner Blair Ford, who served for more than a decade, died Monday, Nov. 1.
He was 78.
Ford served for 13 years on the board, and was part of a commission that dealt with building a controversial new facility, battled Bellingham on a potential merger and argued against the city’s attempts to create a land acquisition program for watershed land.
The rumble with the City of Subdued Excitement occured when Mayor Dan Pike’s administration sort of put its boot to the throat of a little district that oversees water and sewer service around the drinking water source for half of the county, including all of Bellingham, with the threat of lawsuits and changing agreements between the two entities.
And, in the end, when Bellingham’s
demandrequest that the district look at merging penciled out as a cost savings for the public, but wouldn’t allow the city to further regulate development in the watershed – they went away.
But Ford, serving as the commission’s president in 2006, was criticized and questioned about the lack of aggressive notice to the district’s customers when they sought to build a new $5 million administration building.
Then, Ford said that no notices went out to customers, but that some residents had attended meetings when the plan was discussed.
Ford opposed a proposal to ban boating on Lake Whatcom in 2004 during a heated community conversation that would lead to a group of activists forcing an up-or-down vote by the County Council on an all-ban proposal. In the end, a compromise law from County Councilman Seth Fleetwood banned two-stroke motors from being used on boats.
In 2000, Ford opposed on behalf of the entire commission a plan by Bellingham to increase water rates by $5 to create a land acquisition fee in order to protect the watershed from further development — one of the key contributors to increased phosphorous levels in the lake.
A letter to the city from Ford argued that Bellingham officials shouldn’t make such a move unilaterally and that both the district and the county should have been involved.
To date, the city of Bellingham has purchased or acquired the development rights on more 1,500 acres of Lake Whatcom watershed land.
Ford stopped serving on the board in September as he was unable to attend meetings. Two new commissioners have been selected to the board in recent months. Commission Thomas Hadd resigned to move to Seattle to be closer to his grandchildren.