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On May 31st, the City of Ferndale hosted a citywide community meeting. Over 100 members of the public attended along with volunteers from a number of local non-profits and community groups.
Below is a video of the program at that meeting. It include an introduction from Mayor Greg Hansen and an overview of City initiatives from Administrator Jori Burnett. Pictures of the event can be found on the City’s social media channels.
Ferndale Uses COVID Relief Funds to Jump Start Downtown
Thanks to an infusion of COVID relief funds, the City is launching a number of initiatives aimed at improving Ferndale’s downtown. Of the approximately $4.2 million the City is set to receive from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), here are some of the ways the City is using that money to support our downtown:
Main Street Program: The City has allocated $400,000 to establish a Main Street Program, complete with events, programing and a paid executive director, to pursue economic development for our downtown core. These seed funds would help the program get established however it is intended to be self-sustaining in the following years. Rather than relying on the previous volunteer efforts of the Ferndale Downtown Association, this program can promote redevelopment efforts, beautification and bring fresh economic activity to Ferndale’s downtown core.
In addition to this seed funding for the Main Street Program, the City has provided an additional $450,000 to the program, including $200,000 for grants or loans to incoming businesses that will support Downtown revitalization, $200,000 for grants or loans to existing businesses which seek to grow or change in a manner that supports revitalization or who undertake improvements to respond to COVID-19, and $50,000 for Downtown beautification efforts and/or matching funds for beautification efforts that the Program may wish to pursue.
The Cooperative is currently working with our state legislators to secure additional funding for a community navigator position that would help those experiencing hardship navigate local resources and services.
All of these initiatives are supported by COVID relief funds and do not impact the City’s general fund.
“While all of these efforts are worthwhile on their own merits, taken together, they are an unprecedented investment in Ferndale’s future,” said Mayor Greg Hansen. “While the impacts of the pandemic are still being felt, the decisions we make today put us on the path to come roaring back.”
Ferndale City Council unanimously endorses a YES vote on the Ferndale School District Operations Levy
At their last meeting, the City Council was united in their support for this measure.
“Ferndale students benefit intellectually, emotionally, and physically when these resources and programs are funded. We have a proud history in sports, the arts, and education. Let’s continue to fund these activities that make Ferndale special. As a diverse and non-partisan City Council, we ask that all Ferndale voters approve the Ferndale School District Replacement Levy. Ferndale and its students are worth it!”
Ferndale Mayor Greg Hansen provides an update on the City’s actions and preparedness planning for the upcoming severe weather, comments on work and efforts the last couple of weeks after the recent flood, and provides suggestions for how you can best prepare yourselves and help your neighbors.
In looking at the developing forecast for heavy rains and a rising river, Mayor Greg Hansen issued a statement today, “City staff and Public Works crews are on standby today and in the days to follow with all available resources ready to respond if river levels make this necessary. I encourage individuals to also do what they can to prepare themselves and to help their neighbors. If you are within a flood area, be prepared to secure your vehicles and belongings. Ferndale residents can also help by cleaning leaves and other debris from around the storm drains near your home. Please check on your neighbors. Watch for road closure notices before leaving home, and be patient with each other as this weather evolves. We will continue to monitor this situation and will provide updates as they become available through our website and Facebook page.”
WHEREAS, public works professionals focus on infrastructure, facilities and services that are of vital importance to sustainable and resilient communities and to the public health, high quality of life and well-being of the people of the City of Ferndale; and,
WHEREAS, these infrastructure, facilities and services could not be provided without the dedicated efforts of public works professionals, who are responsible for rebuilding, improving and protecting our nation’s transportation, water supply, water treatment and solid waste systems, parks, public buildings, and other structures and facilities essential for our citizens; and,
WHEREAS, it is in the public interest for the citizens, civic leaders and children of Ferndale to gain an understanding of the importance of public works and public works programs in their respective communities;
Now, therefore, I, Greg Hansen, Mayor of Ferndale, Washington do hereby proclaim May 16th-22nd, 2021 as National Public Works Week. I urge all community members to participate in activities, events and ceremonies designed to pay tribute to our public works professionals, managers and employees and to recognize the substantial contributions they make to protecting our national health, safety, and quality of life.
IN WITNESS HEREFOF I have set my hand to this seventeenth day of May, 2021.
THE CITY EXTENDS ITS GRATITUDE TO THE LUMMI NATION
WHEREAS, the ability for a community to stop the spread of COVID-19 remains dependent on being able to vaccinate as many members of the public as possible; and
WHEREAS, the Lummi Nation and the community of Ferndale share a long and deep history together; and
WHEREAS, the Lummi Nation recognizes the importance of vaccinating Ferndale School District teachers, staff, and employees; and
WHEREAS, Ferndale School District staff were not currently eligible for the vaccine under the guidelines laid out by the Washington State Department of Health; and
WHEREAS, as a sovereign nation, the Lummi Nation has access to a different supply of vaccines and is able to implement a vaccine schedule that meets the needs of their community; and
WHEREAS, the Lummi Nation identified the Ferndale School District teachers, staff and school board as essential members of their community and therefore included them in their eligibility schedule; and
WHEREAS, the Lummi Nation established a vaccination event on February 27th to provide the COVID-19 vaccine to 374 school district employees: and
WHEREAS, generosity is a core value of the Lummi Nation and speaks to who they are as a people;
NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, we, the City of Ferndale, do hereby express our profound gratitude to the Lummi Nation for helping vaccinate our Ferndale teachers and staff. Your generosity protects our community as a whole and we are deeply thankful for this effort.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.