Home Boating Business Big Changes for Bellingham

Big Changes for Bellingham

by Norris Comer

Bellingham Harbor Land Lease agreementChange is brewing at the Port of Bellingham both in terms of land use, leadership, and the arts. The Port Commission authorized a Harbor Land Lease agreement with GrandCamp International, LLC for five acres of property and up to seven acres of aquatic lands near the Bellingham Shipping Terminal to support timber industry activities. The agreement with Atlanta, Georgia-based GrandCamp is for five years with a five-year renewal option.

“Reactivating the Shipping Terminal in support of working waterfront jobs has been a high priority for the Port of Bellingham” said Port Commission President Dan Robbins in a January 4, 2017 press release. One of GrandCamp’s initial activities will be the exportation of round logs from North Puget Sound to Asia. The company will debark and stage enough logs near the Shipping Terminal to fill a Handymax break-bulk cargo vessel. Three 12-man longshoremen gangs will be employed for about seven days to load the round logs onto the cargo vessel. The frequency of cargo ships calling on the Shipping Terminal, and therefore the amount of long-term employment, will be dependent on local supply and demand from customers, presumably in Asia.

“The Port is modernizing the Bellingham Shipping Terminal to meet the needs of today’s break-bulk cargo operators” said Port Director of Maritime Dan Stahl in the same press release. “With 1,250 feet of dock space on the deepwater pier, a 550-foot barge pier, 40 acres of surrounding upland property, and restored navigation depth, the Bellingham Shipping Terminal is ready to go to work.”

On the leadership front, the Port of Bellingham has appointed Alan Birdsall as the new Manager of Marinas. Birdsall comes to the position with over 30 years of experience working for the Port at the capacities of Harbormaster, Stormwater Manager, and most recently as the Strategic Project Manager.

“Mr. Birdsall is the ideal candidate to be the Port’s Manager of Marinas” said Port Executive Director Rob Fix in a January 13, 2017 press release. “He has many years of experience in marina operations, financial management, and infrastructure development, along with a strong commitment towards customer service. Our boating community will be in excellent hands with Alan at the helm.”

“I am honored to have been selected as the Port’s Manager of Marinas and excited to take on this new opportunity” said Birdsall in the same press release. “I look forward to working with Port staff, marine-related businesses, and our local boating community as we seek to continue providing high quality marina facilities at some of the most affordable rates in Puget Sound.” Birdsall will manage over 2,000 permanent moorage slips for recreational, commercial, and charter vessels at Blaine Harbor and Squalicum Harbor. His duties will range from managing marina personnel and budgeting to supporting the local commercial fishing industry and other marine-related businesses through the development of infrastructure upgrades, programs, and policies.

Lastly, the locally iconic Evergreen Heart, a patch of English ivy that grows on the side of the historic Granary Building that has been embraced as an art installation and popular photo spot, will be removed as per code and renovation requirements of the building. But fear not, for plans are reportedly in the works for a new heart after the improvements are completed. What’s more, the flowerless, structurally damaging, and ruthlessly invasive English ivy will likely be replaced with jasmine vines, which have beautiful flowers and will not devastate the local ecosystem, mounted on a trellis to spare the building. Change is brewing in Bellingham, and hopefully the Evergreen Heart’s upgrade from ivy to jasmine will be an apt metaphor.

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