It’s shaping up to be a busy day on the boats and trains beat.
At 1:25 p.m., the City Council’s Lake Whatcom committee will get a staff report on the impact of closing the Bloedel-Donovan Park boat launch until a system of inspecting and decontaminating boats can be set up. In past meetings, council members have expressed serious concerns about the risk that boats will introduce zebra and quagga mussels into the lake, which would be a bad thing.
The staff report doesn’t appear to provide much support for a closure. It notes that 300 to 500 boats may use the launch on a busy summer day, but it also observes that “most of those boaters will seek and use other points of access to launch into the lake.”
The report also notes that extra police officers would likely need to be assigned to the park to enforce the closure, and that would be expensive.
At 1:55 p.m., the council will discuss Communitywise Bellingham’s report on potentially disruptive effects from rail capacity improvements that might be required to accommodate the flow of Powder River Basin coal trains to a proposed Cherry Point terminal.
On Sunday, we reported on some of the complexities of railroad freight operations. BNSF officials say they can get the trains through town without constructing a massive siding that would cut off Boulevard Park, among other things. But to me at least, the situation is murky.
I did turn up a little-noticed rail capacity study completed in late 2011 for a coalition of Washington state ports that did not include Bellingham. That study, like previous state studies about rail capacity in this region, anticipates the need for additional sidings between Everett and the border to meet demand.
Both committee meetings are in council chambers at City Hall, 210 Lottie St.
Speaking of ports, the nice people at our own Port of Bellingham have decided that this would be a good week for commissioners to meet on Monday instead of Tuesday. But let’s save that for the next post.