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.
The City mourns the loss of former City Councilmember and SCOPE Officer Paul Ingram, who passed away in October. He was a passionate advocate for the people, electric vehicles and doing what was right rather than what was popular. Our hearts go out to his family, who is in our thoughts and prayers.
The City of Ferndale, in collaboration with Whatcom County, other local cities and the Port of Bellingham has secured over $230,000 for 29 businesses in Ferndale. These resources are part of the Whatcom REstart grants, where local jurisidictions pooled their federal funds from the CARES act passed in the initial outbreak of COVID-19.
Grant applications were received from every city and town in Whatcom County, and an intentional effort was made to ensure that the recipients were also representative of the county by geography and industry.
“We are a resilient community. When we get knocked down, we don’t complain, we get back up and try again,” said Ferndale Mayor Greg Hansen. “With these resources, I believe our businesses can come back after this crisis better and stronger than before.”
The grants are only eligible to cover specific expenses. The list of eligible expenses is limited by conditions under which CARES Act funds are distributed. Eligible expenses include but are not limited to: rent, ordinary loan payments, employee wages and benefits, typical operating costs and COVID-19-related public health measures.
“We’ve only been able to fund about 40%of the applicants, and that’s frustrating, because we see so many businesses and their employees impacted by this crisis,” said Gina Stark, Economic Development Project Manager at the Regional Economic Partnership. “We hope that those of you who we were not able to assist at this time will continue to adapt and to make things work.”
In addition to these business and economic response efforts, CARES Act funding has also been dedicated to support the public emergency response, food and housing security, childcare services, and services and facilities to those living unsheltered.
Mayor Greg Hansen is grateful that the Governor has listened to our repeated requests to restart construction in a safe and responsible way and this is a good start. For full details of the safety requirements, please see the guidelines available here. For questions about individual projects, please see Community Development Director Haylie Miller at HaylieMiller@cityofferndale.org or 360-685-2367.
First, let me thank you and the thousands of other residents for all you’ve done to keep us safe and healthy this last month. Whether you are a grocery store clerk working at Haggens or Grocery Outlet, a Ferndale school teacher trying to keep your students engaged through a computer or just sheltering at home with your family, you are doing your part to protect our community. Thank you.
I wanted to take a few moments to talk to everyone in the City about what our future looks like. I’ve been in almost daily contact with the Governor’s office fighting to get Ferndale back to business in a safe and responsible way. I want to see our projects restarted and our businesses open but we have to do it right. The last thing anyone wants is for Ferndale to be ground zero for the next outbreak. A second wave would cause an even more brutal round of shut downs and we cannot afford that in either lives or dollars. That’s why I am so relieved to see most Ferndale residents doing what they can to stay home and stay healthy.
In another couple of weeks, we will see the restrictions from the Governor’s Stay Home, Stay Healthy order begin to be lifted but it will not be like flipping a switch. We will still need to maintain social distancing for much of our day-to-day operations and we cannot allow large gatherings. Last week, the Old Settlers Association, the Chamber of Commerce and the City jointly agreed to suspend their large public events this summer in an effort to prevent another outbreak. Believe me, I was looking forward to Old Settlers Weekend, especially since this year would have been their 125 anniversary. Make no mistake, we will still celebrate our history – we will just have to do it without a big parade or festival in the park.
Even more troubling, this week we received news that the Intalco facility was closing. The smelter is part of the lifeblood of our community, and they have been putting food on the tables of Ferndale families for almost three generations. This closure will be a critical blow to our local economy in the midst of a difficult time. But we are Ferndale, we look after each other especially when things look the most grim. I know that I will do everything in my power to breathe life back into this facility and fight like hell for all of our Ferndale families that find themselves out of work.
These are difficult and troubling times but we are a resilient community. We’ve survived floods, economic disasters, tragedies and more. We will survive this – together.
Mayor Greg Hansen Statement on Intalco Facility Closure:
“This news is simply heartbreaking. The smelter is part of the lifeblood of our community, and they have been putting food on the tables of Ferndale families for almost three generations. This closure will be a critical blow to our local economy in the midst of a difficult time.
We are Ferndale, we look after each other especially when things look the most grim.
I know that I will do everything in my power to breathe life back into this facility and fight like hell for all of our Ferndale families that find themselves out of work.”