Five months and many hours of information-gathering meetings later, the votes haven't changed on the transfer of land around Lake Whatcom.
The Whatcom County Council appears as ready as ever to approve a transfer of 8,844 acres around the lake from state to county control, so a low-impact park of trails and primitive campsites can be developed. The vote on the transfer, or reconveyance, was initially expected on Sept. 11, 2012, but was postponed after an hours-long public hearing.
As clear as the outcome may be, council members will let the public have its say one more time. Council voted 6-1 on Tuesday, Feb. 12, to hold a second public hearing on the land transfer. It is scheduled for March 12.
Council member Carl Weimer, a park supporter, voted against another public hearing.
The council is likely to take a final vote on the reconveyance the night of the hearing, or early the next morning.
"I'm sure it'll be an all-nighter, and that's fine with me," said council member Barbara Brenner, who requested the public hearing.
In Tuesday's informational meeting, the third of three scheduled after the delayed vote, the discussion seemed to be more about when the park would be approved, not if. Brenner, a park opponent, wanted to know if some of the 55 miles of proposed trails would definitely be set aside for downhill mountain bikers. The answer was "no."
Council member Kathy Kershner, a skeptic about the proposal, was concerned how much of the park's expenses would need to be covered by public money.
Pete Kremen and Ken Mann were eager to take a vote.
"We need to move forward on this," Kremen said. "After receiving the information (Tuesday), I'm even more convinced that this is such an opportunity."
Kremen said a public hearing was unnecessary and reminded council that the first hearing was not required but was held as a courtesy to the public.
"I'm ready to vote," Mann said. "I think we've studied it and presented it over and over again, and I'm ready."
"I haven't heard anything tremendously new," Weimer said, "so I'm ready to vote on this, too."