BELLINGHAM - Mayor Kelli Linville's first year in office was more about rebuilding relationships than producing tangible results.
With the Port of Bellingham, Whatcom County government and other partners working more amicably with the city, the stage is set for progress in 2013 on developing the waterfront, protecting Lake Whatcom and keeping the county's emergency response agency unified.
This was the mayor's message during her State of the City address, Tuesday, Jan. 15, at Best Western Lakeway Inn. She spoke at a meeting of the Bellingham/Whatcom Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
Cooperation between the city and the county led to a common policy on preventing invasive plant and shellfish species from entering Lake Whatcom, Linville said.
"Working with (county) Executive (Jack) Louws has been very inspirational on that part," Linville said of the work to protect Lake Whatcom. "He understood everyone needs to pay their fair share."
Linville conceded that progress has been slow on the lake. A program to reduce stormwater runoff at homes in the Silver Beach Neighborhood had to be retooled to reach a larger number of residents, she said.
The Lake Whatcom program will benefit from a new hire, she said. Jon Hutchings will leave his job as assistant Public Works director for the county to take the new title of natural resources director with the city. He will coordinate all the city's environmental programs, Linville said.
A good working relationship with the port has yielded progress on waterfront redevelopment. The plan comes before the city Planning Commission in March, when the public can begin to assess the proposal and give input.
More behind-the-scenes work on emergency services should show results soon, Linville said. County and city officials have been hammering together the "four or five contracts" needed to reorganize the advanced ambulance service Whatcom Medic One, while keeping city and county units unified.
Not every county fire district can be forced to participate, Linville said, but "right now everybody has got their hand up saying that they want to."
"Everything is looking fairly positive," she said.
A new Medic One board that gives the county more oversight should be in place this year.