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Archive for May, 2018

LIFAC’s Ferry Questionnaire Is Now Available Online, KPFF’s Final Reports Due June 5th
by Stuart Rich- PLIC President
At KPFF’s final public meeting on May 22nd, the ferry consultants recommended a two phased development beginning (2020 to 2028) with a 34 car diesel hybrid ferry with necessary improvements and repairs to the two docks , and a long-term project (2028 to 2040) for the Gooseberry terminal relocation, upland expansion, and improvements to the Lummi Island dock.  The estimated capital costs for the three ferry size options and dock work ranges from 17 to 65 million dollars over the two phase development time period.
On May 23rd, LIFAC released an online comprehensive questionnaire which is the community’s best opportunity to weigh in on what recommendations LIFAC should make to the County Council in July.  LIFAC’s questionnaire includes background information and should take 20 to 40 minutes to complete.  It is well worth your time and effort.  The deadline for the LIFAC questionnaire is June 10thTo access the questionnaire go to:
KPFF has still not released to LIFAC its final reports and recommendations on costs, revenue, financial forecasts, and final service alternatives which is expected to be delivered to LIFAC on June 5th.  At the KPFF public meeting Roland Middleton (Whatcom County Public Works Department) assured the audience that the capital improvement costs for the phased projects will be the financial responsibility of Whatcom County not the community.  Ultimately, the capitalization and allocation of capital costs between the County and the public is a County Council determination.
PLIC would urge LIFAC to release KPFF’s final reports to the public immediately upon receipt so that citizens have the benefit of knowing the complete financial picture.  In order for the community to make informed decisions, KPFF’s reports should be released prior to the LIFAC questionnaire June 10th deadline and LIFAC’s June 26th public meeting to determine their final recommendations to the County Council.
We are now closing in on completing the important first step towards obtaining a much needed replacement boat for the Whatcom Chief.  Now is the time for Lummi Islanders and others to analyze the proposed KPFF recommendations and to strive for building community consensus on how to best provide for our critical transportation link.
On May 29th at 6:30 p.m. at the Beach School, PLIC will host a Town Hall Meeting to discuss LIFAC’s  ferry questionnaire and to hear, scribe, and make your comments and any concerns known to LIFAC, Public Works, and County Council.
Let Your Voice Be Heard
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KPFF  Drops 28  Car Ferry Size,  LIFAC Dumps All Electric Ferry,  

PW: 2026 Completion Deadline is Not Viable

At the May 9th LIFAC meeting,  KPFF dropped their plans for a 28- car ferry to a  20- car ferry size (as the mid-size of the three options) citing the marginal differences in ridership capacity and costs between a 28- car and 34-car ferry. The ferry size options are now at 16, 20, and 34 car boats.

LIFAC voted unanimously on Patricia Dunn’s  motion to remove the all electric propulsion system option from further consideration. LIFAC Chairperson Nancy Ging cited high  capital improvement costs, expensive battery replacements, and power charging issues as the reasons for dropping the all electric option.

Roland Middleton, Special Programs Manager for Whatcom County Public Works advised the audience that the Gooseberry Dock relocation  was a big funding item for the County which would be helped by phased projects that spreads the cost impact to the County beyond the County Council’s adopted completion deadline of 2026.

KPFF’s  representative Mike Anderson also recommended  phased in  short-term and long-term projects by prioritizing work that needs to be done first.   “Based on useful life and funding constraints,”  KPFF’s first phase short-term project (2020 to 2028)  would give priority for the construction of a new boat, repairs to the  Gooseberry trestle , and Lummi Island dock modifications for the replacement boat.  The second phase long-term project (2020 to 2040)  would be comprised of the Gooseberry terminal relocation, upland expansion, and Lummi Island dock improvements.

Chairperson Nancy Ging stated that LIFAC’s  scheduled July 24th  deadline for County Council’s  approval  of the ferry system alternatives  is necessary in order to  meet the next four-year funding cycle deadline for CRAB (a regional government transportation agency) which grants up to 10 million dollars for projects in yearly increments of $500,000  for twenty years.

 

No date was given at the LIFAC meeting for the production and delivery of KPFF’s final three critical reports to LIFAC members. The final KPFF reports are: Task 6 Funding/Finance, Task 7 Service Alternatives (an evaluation and summary of all the reports), and KPFF’s  Draft and Final recommendations.  Mike Anderson stated that the information in the upcoming consultant’s reports regarding  finance, funding, and service alternatives would be ready for KPFF’s final public hearing on May 22nd at 6:30 pm at the Beach School.

In a PLIC letter to LIFAC dated May 8th, the PLIC Board stated:  “The delay in distributing KPFF’s remaining reports to LIFAC Board members raises questions about LIFAC having sufficient time for board review, public distribution of KPFF’s remaining reports, and then affording enough time for community review and input.”

PLIC has recommended to LIFAC that the County should immediately release KPFF’s final reports to PLIC and the public upon their receipt.  These reports should be viewed as essential to everyone’s understanding of the financial costs and funding for the ferry system alternative options.  PLIC will publish a fifth white paper based on what is currently  known regarding KPFF’s  project costs and funding information as outlined in KPFF’s  Lummi Island LOS Analysis Update dated 5/9/18.

Mr. Middleton  further stated that a Ferry District Tax and surcharge would be necessary regardless of boat size in order to qualify for funding opportunities.   Mr. Andersen argued that a surcharge should not be considered a fare increase but rather a recapitalization for “our grandchildren’s boat” separate from the replacement boat which will be funded differently.   Mr. Anderson suggested a peak season surcharge to LIFAC which would target summer tourists and exclude punch card users.  Patricia Dunn requested that Pubic Works prepare a spreadsheet showing the project’s overall costs to both the  County and Lummi Islanders over an extended period of time.

Chairperson Ging distributed an outline for LIFAC’s electronic questionnaire to LIFAC members for their approval which now moves forward for public release on May 23rd  without timely access to KPFF’s  final pending reports.  Patricia Dunn reported that approximately 564  off- island property owners will receive reminder questionnaire postcards.  PLIC will reimburse LIFAC for all mailing costs.

PLIC will host a TOWN HALL MEETING on a May 29th at 6:30 pm at the Beach School  to discuss your questions and comments on KPFF’s May 22nd  public hearing and LIFAC’s May 23rd  online questionnaire which must be submitted by the June 10th deadline.

LET YOUR VOICE BE HEARD

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