By John Stark
Thursday’s Bellingham Planning Commission hearing on waterfront planning proposals attracted a well-organized showing from environmentalists and organized labor. But instead of butting heads–as they have been doing over the Gateway Pacific Terminal coal export facility proposal–they made an obvious effort to support each others’ concerns.
Representatives from Re Sources for Sustainable Communities stressed the importance of living-wage jobs as well as stringent environmental cleanup. Labor leaders said they shared environmental concerns.
Re Sources Executive Director Crina Hoyer told the commission she supports labor’s concerns about creation of family-wage jobs.
Mark Lowry, president of the Northwest Washington Central Labor Council, said union workers want good jobs on a clean waterfront.
“We support our friends in the environmental community and we trust them to look out for our interests,” Lowry said. “We want to be able to bring our kids down there and let them play around in the grass.”
City Council chambers appeared to be a bit more than half-full, with about 80 people in attendance. After two hours, everyone who wished to do so had taken a turn at the microphone.
I’ll have an expanded report online later Friday, as well as in the Saturday print edition.
The Planning Commission will hold another public hearing on waterfront plans next Thursday, March 28, also at 7 p.m. in City Council chambers at City Hall, 210 Lottie St.
Here’s a link to background documents on the joint city/Port of Bellingham plan for redevelopment of 237 waterfront acres, including the former site of Georgia Pacific Corp.’s pulp, chemical and paper operations.
After the seven-member advisory planning commission completes its hearing process, it will make a recommendation to City Council, which is certain to hold its own hearings on waterfront issues. Port of Bellingham commissioners will also need to sign off on waterfront plans before they become final.