Welcome to Ferndale


As a follow up to yesterday’s post Redefining Ferndale I drove by the now erected sign.  I did email Ferndale’s  Mayor Jensen, but noticed he was involved in a little restructuring so I don’t expect any sort of timely response. (oops, my bad see comments)

Anyway, quite a sight to behold now towering 80 feet above I-5 and the surrounding areas.  I can hardly wait to see it all lit up like the Skagit and Tulalip Casinos.  Really, I’ve grown tired of an orange glowing harvest mood hanging low and alone in the evening sky.  I think we’re all ready to put that boredom behind us and let some blindingly bright animations takeover our quiet October sky.  Of course I’m joking about this 80 foot eyesore.

Yes, I know that this is on tribal trust land so without regards for local rules and regulation they can invoke there sacred aboriginal Lummi right to glow at night.  I get it.  But what they can do and could do are two entirely different things.  They can put up this eyesore and they did, but they could have respected the concerns of the rest of us in Ferndale and surrounding areas by tempering what they want with what others want.  That’d be the neighborly thing to do, even if just a little bit.

The people of Ferndale have defined in the Ferndale Municipal Code 18.80 how they’d like signs to look in our area of Whatcom County.  If you’re insane, you might want to read the whole 50 pages, otherwise here’s a taste.

Off-premises signs are prohibited.

Electronic signs which include animations are prohibited

Electronic signs shall be no greater than 25 feet in height

Lighting for signs shall be held to the minimum needed to convey the sign’s message.

Sign lighting shall not be so bright and distracting as to be a traffic hazard.

Lighting of signs shall be in character with the building/development and surrounding area.

So using what I’ve seen and extrapolating from the Skagit and Tulalip casino signs it looks like the Silver Reef sign will be off-premise, animated, 3 times higher than 25 feet, more than minimally lighted, distracting, and quite out of character with surrounding areas.  The Silver Reef sign appears, in these major aspects, to be the exact opposite of what we’d like to see in our town.   This and cutting access to Lummi Island  just gives me a warm fuzzy feeling; how ‘bout you?

OK, that was part one.  Part two/too is “what the heck was the City of Ferndale thinking about during their involvement with this project?”   The Bellingham Herald reported that “the tribe has worked with the city on its design.”   And they also reported Ferndale City Administrator Greg Young as saying “We figured it was better to work cooperatively with the Lummis rather than try to oppose it,” What?  Was it going to be even bigger and brighter and you worked with them to keep it just under 80 feet?  And by working cooperatively I’m seeing that you cooperated with whatever they wanted and in return they gave you the fing… well you get what I mean and I’m pretty sure that’s all we got.

Oh, yes, I forgot the “Welcome to Ferndale” sign.  We got that and wow is it a double blessing.  First we will no longer be known for the Nooksack River, Hovander Park, Pioneer Park, Ferndale football, etc.  I was getting as tired of that as I was the harvest moon.  We’ll soon be known for our hotel, casino, spa and yes, our tobacco shop.   And second, that new 80 foot brightly lit Silver Reef/Welcome to Ferndale” sign will now direct  I-5 traffic to Exit 260 and away from Exit 262 and all of the downtown businesses.   That’d be the other fing…again I’m sure you got it.

3-7-10 update

After reviewing Ferndale City Council meeting minutes I find it quite evident that the city council both approved of and assisted the Lummi Nation in erecting the sign.  In 2005, while working on an Economic Development Accord with the Lummi Nation, the city council reviewed the land purchase noting that signage for the Silver Reef would be placed there.  They also noted that the Lummi Nation had applied to convert the land to trust.

In August of 2008 the council had a chance to appeal the conversion of the land to trust, but instead they unanimously agreed to support the conversion.

I feel more than ever that the City of Ferndale put the wants of the Lummi Nation ahead of the people of Ferndale that they were elected to represent.

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10 Responses to “Welcome to Ferndale”

  1. Meneltarma says:

    As a resident of a neighboring town, I’ve long looked with interest at Ferndale’s efforts to define itself. I confess I struggle to resist (not very well) the many ripe opportunities to crack jokes at its expense. I honestly don’t know what it means to be from Ferndale. The more I spend time there, the more I learn about the people, but not any more about how they define themselves. It’s like Ferndale is just a place to have a house or business, but not much more.

    A young acquaintance of mine is in the midst of a senior project that is supposed to identify Ferndale’s “sacred structure” (see brief on Record-Journal’s education page), and I don’t know what kind of response he is going to get.

    I really need someone from Ferndale to take me under their wing and explain it to me, because when I see a sign like this with “welcome to Ferndale” under it, I get the feeling that Ferndale is just a future Everett or a bigger and more interesting Stanwood.

    • wally says:

      I think you are pretty spot on with your observation that Ferndale has no defining character. We’ve lived here for close to 10 years and I still don’t have a feel for what it might be. I see a few lifetime locals at church perhaps one of them has a better feel.

  2. Not Happy says:

    Don’t like the cameras on the sign. I know they are pointed at the sign, but easily could be used to monitor land that is not tribal/tribal trust. :(

  3. Gary Jensen says:

    No problemo, You can also try my cell at 815-6135. I got a voice mail on the same vein from a Tom but no call back info. If Tom sees this ,the same offer applies.

  4. Gary Jensen says:

    It says you tried to e-mail me but I have checked everything including the spam but do not see it. You can try to call me directly at 685-2350 ext.105. It is big sign and a big subject.

    • wally says:

      My apologies, I wasn’t at my own computer so I had to send it via webmail and well, who knows? I’ll try calling rather than email.

  5. citizen says:

    If I didn’t want you to know that I agreed with you, I wouldn’t have said anything.
    Rightie or leftie, we all can appreciate the role of rules in doing things on the public’s realm.

  6. wally says:

    Sorry I put you in a position to even sorta agree with me. I feel a little strange when I have to agree with some of the more left leaning characters around here, but it happens and I move on.

    I was serious about the moon thing. I drive into Ferndale on Axton and sometimes rather slowly as I look that direction toward a big moon hanging over a dark forming fog.

  7. citizen says:

    Oops, Well after 262 Southbound, that should be.

  8. citizen says:

    I hate to admit that I sorta agree with you about the untoward way this sign has come about.
    But outshining the moon?
    Northbound, this sign is far past exit 260,
    and Southbound it’s well before the Ferndale ‘business’ exit 262.
    So either way, Ferndale could direct interested drivers through town with their own signage.
    Does the Lummi Nation have the right to do whatever they want on trust lands?
    since there doesn’t seem to be any political will to call them on it.
    Trying to find an alternative route to Lummi Island is the worst use of effort so far,
    even a full-on war would be cheaper.