Welcome: John Coleman welcomed neighbors and reviewed the meeting agenda.
BTC Surge Space update: Dave Jungkuntz and Eve Magyar presented the site plan for Bellingham Technical College. They explained the Surge Space construction that will continue to the end of the year. They will be adding classrooms and electronics labs. More space will be added to the Campus Center. Additional parking spaces will be created, as well as rain gardens to manage water runoff. BTC has a webcam that will provide viewing of the construction on certain sections of the campus. To access BTC construction updates, go to www.bet.ctc.edu and use the QUICKLINKS pull down menu in the upper right corner. Updates are posted every other week.
Plastic Bag Reduction Ordinance: Brooks Anderson handed out information about the problems caused by single-use plastic bags. She outlined the benefits of reusable bags, including less litter on the land and ocean and reduced land fill waste and cost. Bellingham uses 22 million plastic bags a year. The “Bag It Bellingham” group is proposing a ban on plastic carryout bags as well as a 5 cent charge on recycled paper carryout bags. The fee will encourage the switch to reusable bags. The fee will stay with the retailer to cover costs of the paper bags. To express your support of this ordinance, contact City councilmembers. More information is available at: www.bagitbellingham.com or www.facebook.com/bagitbellingham
Earthquake Preparedness: Flip Breskin described the “Map Your Neighborhood” program that explains how to prepare your home and neighborhood for disasters. In a disaster, first responders may not be able to help you. Your neighbors will be your resource for help. When you meet with your neighbors to “Map Your Neighborhood”, you will make 3 lists: who has what skills, who has what supplies, and who lives where. The “Map Your Neighborhood” booklet tells you what to do first. One thing that everyone should do is have a bag under the bed with sturdy shoes, a flash light, and hardhat or helmet. “Map Your Neighborhood” takes only one person on any block to start it. That person invites the block neighbors to a meeting to go over the “Map Your Neighborhood” information. Flip Breskin would be willing to present at such meetings. If she is not available, there is a “Map Your Neighborhood” DVD. The presentation takes 90 minutes. Contact Flip Breskin at: email@example.com You may also ask to join the email list for Flip’s Columbia Neighborhood newsletter that has great information for all neighborhoods. If you wish to be on her email list, include your name, address, phone number, and email address in your message to Flip.
Sheriff Department Presentation: Sheriff Bill Elfo and Corrections Deputy, Wendy Jones gave a presentation outlining the many responsibilities of the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Department. The Department patrols 2000 sq. miles, and serves 201,000 residents. It works with all other law enforcement agencies and public safety agencies. There has been a significant drop in crime over 5 years, but there has been a rise in crime in the last year. A major concern of the Sheriff’s Department is the increase in gangs in Whatcom County. There are 18 active gangs with over 400 members. The white supremacist gangs are the most prevalent in Whatcom County. The Sheriff’s Department has assigned a team of deputies to focus on the gang problems. Another pressing issue for the Sheriff’s Department is the out-dated, over-crowded jail. The jail was built to house 148 prisoners and currently averages 290. The Sheriff’s department would like to see a jail built close to I-5 that would meet current needs and be able to expand, as needed, over time. You can contact the Sheriff’s Department at: www.whatcomcountysheriff.org
Birchwood Park Port-a-potty: The Birchwood Neighborhood Association is renting a Port-a-potty for the Birchwood Park from May through September, the highest park use period. The Bellingham Parks Department budget was not able to pay for the facility. The BNA felt this was a sanitation and safety issue and decided to pay for it through BNA dues and donations. The cost to cover this time period is $520. At this point BNA has collected $300 in donations to support the portable toilet. Donations may be sent to: BNA, c/o Becky Schlotterback, 2611 Lafayette St., Bellingham, WA 98225
New Neighborhood Church: Nate Walker told us about Christ’s Church that has newly located in the church building next to Birchwood Elementary. The church is planning to be of service to the Neighborhood residents. Nate encouraged neighbors to contact them or attend the Church services.
Cozy Corner Book Store: The bookstore has moved to the Northwest Shopping Center across from Yeagers. They have a larger space and serve espresso drinks. Several cards giving free espresso drinks were given out.
Annual Birchwood Neighborhood Picnic: The annual picnic will be held on Sunday, August 7th, from 3:00-5:00pm. Hot dogs, veggie burgers, and watermelon will be provided. Potluck dishes are welcome. More information will be coming later in the summer.