Election View: Robbins wants balanced approach in port development

COURTESY TO THE BELLINGHAM HERALDOctober 11, 2013 

This November there is an important election that will likely determine how our waterfront will be restored. Will it provide us with tourism? Will there be new business attracted to our downtown? Will it be done in such as way as to protect and enhance local business and our downtown? Will there be public parks? Will the waterfront create new jobs for Whatcom County? In short, will our waterfront be an asset. Will all port properties be used to their maximum potential?

We have a unique opportunity presented to us. For years the downtown was separated from the waterfront by Georgia Pacific. Now we have a blank canvas to develop this land in a way that will make our citizens proud for generations to come. This needs to be a mix of uses that will provide jobs and make Bellingham a tourist destination. The waterfront is about more than jobs, it is the future of our community. When large businesses consider where to move they look at schools, parks, culture and other amenities because they want to be able to recruit the best employees. Bellingham always comes in high on this scale because of our quality of life.

In the past it seemed as if there were some unnecessary delays and that the City of Bellingham and the port were not on the same page. It seems now there is a shared vision so the project can move ahead. It is important to develop this prime property correctly for generations to come. This exciting opportunity should provide the public with a great place to enjoy and revenues from jobs that will improve our economy and support the services we all like. I am excited about participating in this very important process and gathering opinions from Whatcom County residents when making decisions as a commissioner for the Port of Bellingham.

Whatcom County should be proud of its international airport. When I grew up in Bellingham there were no jets flying in and out taking people from our little airport to their destinations. It is a great convenience to fly out of Bellingham instead of driving to Seattle. There were 79,890 passengers flying out of Bellingham in 2004. This year that number will be over 600,000! The need for expansion is a symptom of the success of the airport. The airport contributes greatly to the economic development of our county. The airport needs to be a good neighbor. Every effort should be made to minimize the impacts to the airport neighborhoods.

I have been in business management and ownership for my entire professional career. I continue to act as mentor to prospective new business owners as a volunteer for SCORE. I feel that this makes me very experienced and qualified to serve as your next port commissioner. I have chosen to serve because I feel so strongly that decisions made in the next few years will have major impacts on the future of Whatcom County. When we develop our waterfront and other port property, we must insist on a balanced approach.

One of the reasons I respect the Port of Bellingham is their successful efforts in keeping the property tax contributions to a minimum. Your taxes have dropped every year for the past seven years for the port's share. I would continue to make sure the port portion of the property tax is not increased. As a business mentor, I will continue to talk with the business community. It is important that the needs of local business as well as individuals be considered in all port decisions. I will continue to foster job creation as one of the main goals of the Port of Bellingham. I will always ask the businesses what their main challenge is and seek ways to improve the business climate.

It is with this in mind that I made the important decision to file for the office of Port Commissioner in the first district. I care deeply about this community. I was born and raised here and want it to be a place where people can afford to raise their families and enjoy the environment that many of us have been so fortunate to enjoy.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dan Robbins is one of two challengers for Port of Bellingham, District 1, which is open with Scott Walker not seeking re-election. Vote-by-mail ballots will be mailed Oct. 19 and the general election is Nov. 5.

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