State of the City Address 2021

Mayor Greg Hansen

A Challenging Year and Looking Ahead

The State of the City 2021

By Mayor Greg Hansen

Remembering a single day can bring the distance of a year into focus. It was at the second council meeting in March, only my sixth meeting since being sworn in as the Mayor of Ferndale, when we received notice from the Governor that we were going into a statewide lockdown. In a single moment, the course of our city changed.

Ferndale did what we had to do. We buckled down, wore our masks, shifted to remote work where we could and tried to flatten the curve, but as the weeks stretched into months and we experienced spike after contagious spike, it was clear that this was a marathon, not a sprint.

Even as we were still comprehending the scope of the pandemic came the second blow – the curtailment of Alcoa. The smelter had put food on the table for three generations of Ferndale families and it leaves a big hole in our hearts.

Alcoa

I had expected to spend my first year in the Mayor’s office working on revitalizing our downtown, working on plans for a new city campus or celebrating the 150th anniversary of the Old Settlers Picnic.

We do not get to choose the times in which we live, only how we respond to the moment of crisis. In this, know that we have incredible public servants working around the clock on behalf of our city. City staff got right to work solving problems, building bridges and leveraging our relationships with our community partners to meet the moment head on. From the school district to the port, our local businesses to our non-profits, everyone put their heads together to tackle this crisis.

We developed COVID safe construction standards to allow private and public projects in Ferndale to safely resume work ahead of the rest of the state. We secured over $294,000 in grants for Ferndale businesses and organizations. We worked with the Ferndale Community Resource Center to help with utility bills and even made our own Variety Show with the Old Settlers Association to help celebrate their anniversary.

Thornton Overpass

All of this while never losing sight of our long-term goals. We continued critical investments in our infrastructure, including significant progress on the Thornton Overpass and the Wastewater Treatment Plant expansion.  Housing construction remained strong throughout 2020 and into the new year.

As we turn our eyes to the future, the question remains: what is the state of the City of Ferndale? From a city budget perspective, we are in a better position than many of our neighboring small cities. Ferndale always struggled to generate retail sales taxes, a critical component of city budget, but the shift to online purchases has brought in a corresponding boost in city revenues. That said, a city cannot sustain itself without our locally owned businesses, they are more than just a budget line item, they are jobs, community touchstones and that which gives us our identity. Please do what you can to support our local businesses during this difficult time.

With the sudden influx of sales tax and the constant stream of construction activity in Ferndale, our city budget is steady for 2021 although we are being cautious about the future.  As Anthony Bourdain said, “Luck is not a business model.” And for those of you put out of work by the Alcoa curtailment or the impacts of COVID, this is small comfort.

We are continuing our work to ensure there is a path, not just back to normal, but to a brighter and better Ferndale. We are investing in our public spaces – a new bathroom in VanderYacht Park, a Picnic Shelter in Star Park and, if the state legislature approves our grant, a new Skate Park in Pioneer Park. These public facilities provide opportunities for community events, safe places to recreate and create local construction jobs.

Star Park Picnic Shelter rendering

We are looking ahead at long-term solutions before they become home-grown disasters. Next month, council will consider placing an affordable housing measure on the ballot this November which would provide much needed matching funds to build affordable units right here in our city for Ferndale residents. This approach, coupled with improvements to our zoning, infrastructure, an emphasis on housing above commercial uses within the Downtown core allows us to tackle the housing crisis on multiple fronts.  One only need look at the crisis unfolding in front of the Bellingham City Hall lawn to know that we cannot wait to tackle the housing crisis – we need to take the steps today to help people stay in their homes.  

In that vein, we are committing the resources to get several road projects shovel ready, including Ferndale Terrace and connecting the Thornton Overpass to our neighborhoods on the hill. This will allow us to capitalize on infrastructure grants put out by the state and federal government to bring those dollars home to our town and fix a few potholes while we are doing it.  The City has been aggressive in informing our representatives in Olympia and Washington DC of infrastructure needs, so that we are well-positioned as a City should infrastructure stimulus bills be adopted.

This last year has been a learning experience, and I do not want it to go to waste. We will expand on the communication tools we have mastered during the pandemic to allow more transparency and better access to your government, whether that is streaming a live video of your council meeting or interactive surveys allowing you to provide instant feedback on city decisions.

Old Settlers Parade

Finally, we will be working to support our signature Ferndale events – our Pioneer Days, Street Festival and Summer of Fun, to ensure that they last for the next generation. They will require all of us to step up – volunteer, sponsor and participate if we want to keep them running strong.

I still have those big plans from the start of my term sitting in my office. We will still need a new city campus with a courthouse and council chambers that can meet our needs going into the future, and I look forward to that day where I can walk past our new catalyst buildings in downtown Ferndale, enjoy a hot dog at Pioneer Days or drive over the Thornton Overpass on my way through the City.

Those days are not far in the distance, they are just around the corner.

Ferndale Friendship Community Garden Searching for a new Coordinator

For the last 10 years, the Community Garden has been under the care and leadership of Gloria Perez, master gardener and dedicated volunteer. Now it’s time for Gloria to retire!

The Community Garden is looking for one or two dedicated individuals, Ferndale resident, who can take over coordination and management of the garden. Prior gardening experience is preferred and Gloria will provide full training. The Garden is a critical community resource and the Coordinator is a critical role. Through a generous grant from the City of Ferndale, we will be able to provide the new coordinator(s) with a small annual stipend for their time and effort. If you are interested, please contact Gloria at rainglo@comcast.net.


For more information including job description and stipend details, see the flyer here.

City Solicits Feedback on Stormwater Management Plan

The City of Ferndale updates the Stormwater Management Plan as a response to specific special conditions within the “Western Washington Phase II Municipal Stormwater Permit” that authorizes the City of Ferndale to discharge stormwater to the waters of the State of Washington.

Per the Permit, this program summary will be updated each year and will be available to the public. Participation and comments are welcome and may be directed to City of Ferndale Stormwater staff  stormwater@cityofferndale.org. Comment period begins February 8, 2021 and ends March 8, 2021.

The draft plan can be found by clicking here or on our “What is Stormwater” page.

Bus Sign Vandal Arrested for Malicious Mischief

David Wurtz was arrested shortly after midnight on 02/03/2021 by the Ferndale Police Department for multiple counts of malicious mischief. Whatcom Transit Authority (WTA) had reported several incidents of vandalism towards their bus stops in the previous months. Damage estimates related to these offenses ranged from $2,500 – $3,500.

In response to these reports, police set up surveillance of a bus stop in the 5700 block of Vista Dr. Shortly after midnight on 02/03/2021, police witnessed a subject walking in the area. As the subject walked by the bus stop located in front of 5750 Vista Dr, the subject sprayed paint on a bus stop sign belonging to WTA.

The subject was detained by police and identified as David Wurtz. David Wurtz had fresh black paint on his hand and fingertips as well as having a can of black spray paint in his possession. A check of other bus stops in the area found several signs had been vandalized with paint which was still wet and dripping.

Based on the observed actions of David Wurtz, physical evidence, and consistencies with previously reported crimes, there was probable cause to arrest David Wurtz for multiple counts of malicious mischief. Due to the combined costs of damage caused by David Wurtz, he was arrested for malicious mischief in the 2nd degree and booked into Whatcom County Jail.

Now Accepting Applications for Professional Services for Consultant Roster

City of Ferndale
Public Notice Solicitation of
Professional Services

The City of Ferndale (pursuant to RCW 39.80) is soliciting statements of qualifications and performance data from engineering and/or architectural firms for providing general engineering and survey services for municipal applications including but not limited to sanitary sewer systems, storm drainage, water distribution systems, streets, geotechnical investigations and studies, and traffic engineering for the remainder of the 2021 calendar year.  These qualifications and performance data will be placed on file and will be used as a source from which to select one or more qualified firms from whom a detailed proposal will be requested for any specific project. 

Those firms who wish to submit shall provide one (1), Statement of Qualifications (SOQ) with a cover letter for each discipline of work they wish to be considered.  The discipline of work needs to be stated in the cover letter.

Include SOQ point-of-contact information with e-mail address on each cover letter.  The format of the SOQ is left to the discretion of the submitter.  Submittals should not exceed (10) ten pages. 

Those firms that have statements currently on file will need to resubmit to be included in the remainder of the 2021 calendar year. All SOQ’s will be placed on file and will be used to select qualified consultants for each particular project, as the need arises.  Due to the ongoing nature of the projects throughout the year consultants not selected will not be notified.  Failure to follow the format outlined above may result in disqualification and/or removal from the Consultant Roster.

Please submit Statements of Qualifications to the City of Ferndale Public Works Department, by mail; attention: Public Works Department, P.O. Box 936, Ferndale, WA 98248 or email to public-works@cityofferndale.org.  The City of Ferndale encourages minority and women owned consultant firms to respond.

For questions, please contact the Public Works Department at public-works@cityofferndale.org or (360) 384-4006.

Following are the Disciplines of Work that the City will be accepting SOQs:

  • Architecture                                       
  • Civil Engineering Design
  • Construction Management & Inspection
  • Cultural Resource Services
  • Electrical Engineering
  • Environmental Services
  • Geotechnical Engineering
  • Hydrogeology
  • Hydrology
  • Land Surveying and Survey Review
  • Landscape Architecture
  • Materials Testing & Inspection
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Property Acquisition & Relocations
  • Property Appraisal
  • Property Review
  • ROW Services
  • Structural Engineering
  • Traffic & Transportation Engineering
  • Traffic Signalization
  • Transportation Planning
  • Utility Engineering
  • Water/Wastewater Engineering
  • Wetlands Delineation & Analysis

Ferndale Police Urge Safe Driving as School Resumes

With students resuming in-classroom instruction for all grades next week, the Ferndale Police Department urges drivers to obey the speed limit in school zones, watch for pedestrians and stop for school buses.

Our officers will be out in force next week to help drivers remember to drive carefully. Together, we can ensure that everyone makes it to class safe and sound.

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