It has been in drafting and review process for about two months
LYNDEN — A city statement on racial justice will be on the agenda of the Lynden City Council meeting of Sept. 21.
That much was agreed on in discussion at the Sept. 8 meeting of the council. Mayor Scott Korthuis said the timing is adequate “to put together a plan that works for everybody,” after several council members also voiced support of that approach.
Both councilors Brent Lenssen and Mark Wohlrab said they believe the city owes a response to those who have asked for a city statement on racial issues amid the nationwide reckoning on race that has happened since Black man George Floyd died in Minneapolis police custody back on May 25.
There have now been two youth-originated Lynden events on the Black Lives Matter theme, as well as patriotic support-police rallies, most pointedly in standoff during a tense July 5 march across town.
In remote-meeting mode, City Council members indicated last week they did not like the way a request to the Public Safety Committee on July 9 devolved into a “social media demand” upon the city leaders.
What did not help the process along, Wohlrab said.
Korthuis and City Administrator Mike Martin developed some wording for a statement and circulated it among councilors, the mayor said. That process stretched out and “by the time it was routed around, we were in the demand stage,” the mayor said.
Councilor Kyle Strengholt asked whether it was just a project of the Public Safety Committee to have a city statement, but Wohlrab said a draft went to all seven councilors and it was assumed the council would “follow through” and take some action.
Lenssen said it would be good to have a council consensus on the statement, or else put it to a vote.
City administration did not have a version of the statement to be made public yet this week Tuesday.
The Sept. 8 meeting also waded into the specter of surging costs associated with the Cedarbrook Planned Residential Development project at the east end of Cedar Drive.
Councilors agreed to hire special legal counsel both for themselves and the city Planning Commission as this complex and controversial project appears headed to appeals and days of hearings, perhaps in October. Neighbors are adamantly opposed to the idea of allowing nine mostly smaller-sized dwelling units in the overall surrounding zone of 10,000-square-foot lots.
Even City Attorney Robert Carmichael will steer clear of representing anyone to avoid any appearance of bias.
Lined up are attorney Brad Furlong to represent the City Council on this matter and Jon Sitkin to legally steer the Planning Commission.
Asked by councilor Gary Bode what the costs are adding up to, Martin said the legal bill could be $30,000 to $40,000 and that could be a “low estimate,” saying this dispute “could on for a while.”
Martin said the city also faces a “significant records request” for internal communications in this case that may be another $5,000-10,000 hit on city resources — to the consternation of City Hall.
“We have to pay that to allow due process,” Bode said. “This little project gets to be quite costly.”
Wohlrab reported that, although a final decision has not been made, Lynden could possibly get the fifth medic unit of Whatcom County that now is based from East Smith Road.
“That would be just amazing if that happened,” said Wohlrab, who is himself a firefighter with North Whatcom Fire & Rescue.
Others said the relocation of Advanced Life Support personnel farther north to Lynden would also be better for response to the Everson, Nooksack and Sumas areas.
The building and subdivision moratorium on land identified as the Pepin Creek Project area was extended once again, for a ninth six-month period.
Tiger Construction will be paid $119,996 to build new restrooms at Berthusen Park.
CR Contracting LLC of Oregon will be paid $103,309 for an asphalt surface treatment and striping project on Lynden Municipal Airport runway.