Op-Ed

Ferndale park, downtown get fresh start

eabell@bhamherald.com

We started the year in Ferndale with several new faces: a new mayor, three new city council members, two new planning commissioners and four new members on the park’s board. Their fresh energy and ideas help keep us moving forward as a city.

To help smooth the transition, the City Council updated and improved its own rules and procedures to better serve the citizens, and the city hosted a parliamentary procedures seminar that was attended by leaders and public officials throughout the county so everyone can enjoy a leaner, fairer and more responsive government.

Our city continues to be one of the fastest growing cities in the state.

There are more new faces are on the horizon. In the next few months, we will select and hire a new finance director and chief of police. It won’t be easy, but with help from council and staff, we will do the best we can to find individuals of the caliber of Mark Peterson and Michael Knapp, who will enjoy a happy retirement here in Whatcom County and have earned our deep appreciation for faithful service to Ferndale.

Our city continues to be one of the fastest growing cities in the state. To plan for this growth, we are finishing our comprehensive plan – our central roadmap that outlines our infrastructure, economic development and housing needs for the next 20 years. Our planning commission and staff have been working hard to make sure we are ready for all that comes our way and I’m proud of the work they’ve done.

Speaking of housing, we held a housing summit in May to learn how we, as a city, can do a better job at meeting the current and future housing needs. Rather than making a presentation, city staff and elected officials held a listening session. We had over 40 professionals (builders, architects, Realtors, etc.) come and share their thoughts on how we can improve the quality of life in Ferndale.

We continue to find ways to save money and improve our bottom line. As a result of thoughtful planning and good stewardship, we closed out 2015 with a modest surplus, which allowed us to catch up on a few projects that we had to put on hold.

We have expanded our annual cleanup day and now focus on cleaning the whole city during the second half of May. We call it “Ferndale Fresh!” By cleaning up our downtown core, and going the extra mile in our neighborhoods, we are creating a cleaner, brighter city. Let’s keep things clean all year round and give Lynden a run for its money!

Speaking of downtown, we are negotiating the use of one of our unused buildings to become a new restaurant and council lowered the permit fee for downtown sidewalk dining from $400 and $25 so restaurants can serve outside. Add in our farmer’s market which is now running Fridays from 1-6 p.m. and our downtown is busier than ever. Especially exciting is the remodeling and reopening of some older buildings downtown.

What else? Following diligent work by your city and local legislators, we have secured $19 million to connect Thornton Road to I-5 at exit 263. While this will not fund the entire project, it is a good start with city-wide benefit. We know traffic remains a challenge and this will go a long way towards improving the commute.

We are also committed to improving traffic at the Slater Road interchange. Our goal is forge an equitable agreement with our neighbors, the Lummi Nation, that benefits everyone involved.

But let’s talk about the biggest news in Ferndale this year: Star Park. Located just south of Pioneer Park, Star Park is a playground that was designed by Ferndale children and built entirely by volunteers. Some 2,200 people, 300 organizations, and 48,000 screws later, we’ve built a park that will last a generation. Bring those kids and grandkids and see something very special. We could not have done it without you.

Perhaps the most satisfying event for me occurred over the recent Memorial Day weekend. Chief Knapp and I were trying to figure out the best way to honor two Ferndale POW war heroes from World War II. One had recently passed away and the other was 94. The result was the naming of two Ferndale streets: Joe Moser Lane and Dick Stone Lane. Whatcom Fire District 7, Ferndale Police Department, Homeland Security, the Bravo 369 Flight Foundation and local Cub Scouts all gathered to pay tribute to these good men. When I spoke at the ceremony I expressed my hope that kids will asked parents, “Why are these streets named after those men?” and hear a fabulous story about our own local members of that “greatest generation.”

So, thanks for allowing me to share the update. I love talking to neighbors about your hopes and concerns. Join us on one of our Ferndale Fit walks where neighbors gather weekly to run, walk or jog together Wednesdays from 5:15 p.m. at Locker Room Fitness or stop by Ferndale Woods Coffee, I am there nearly every Monday morning between 6-8 a.m. or e-mail me at JonMutchler@CityofFerndale.org

Jon Mutchler began his term as mayor of Ferndale Jan. 1, 2016.

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