Oh Lord: Yet another new round of plans is floating about for possible future development of the Port of Bellingham’s Gravel-Beach Folly, aka the waterfront non-redevelopment project. The Port and various partners — lately, the Irish developer Harcourt because, really, who knows more about Bellingham? — have used the project as a staging area for Interesting-Idea-Squashing for going on two decades now.
The Latest: Among the newbie notions to repurpose that remnant Boardmill building: A soccer stadium. A space for “upscale” conventions (B. Hammer is picturing his fake name on a nametag in gold leaf.) An “upper upscale boutique hotel.”
Free Locals’ Advice to the Port Braintrust: Drop “upscale” from whatever you’re doing in favor of “right-size.”
Seriously, Folks: It’s mildly stunning that, after 20 years of studies, plans, citizens committees (advice mostly ignored) and other bloated-PDF consultants' reports, the Port is still hat in hand asking the community for “a grand scheme” and better ideas. Here’s one: Plant some trees, leave the pump track, pile up some climbing boulders, shut off your office lights and go back to managing vacant waterfront property elsewhere.
Remarkably: Harcourt, the feckless developer handed the keys to much of this potential 237-acre civic jewel many moons ago — only to apparently lose them down the cracks of its BMW seats — has put forth the magnificently uninspired vision of yet another big corporate hotel, part of its existing (we are not making this up) “Titanic” line.
Apparently: The feel-good monicker “Lusitania,” another mass-death-associated brand name, was already taken.
It Does However Have Significant Mirth Potential: “Welcome to the Titanic’s Dark Fathoms of Death Bar & Lounge; how about a big Bham welcome for ... Black Sabbath!”
Having Gotten All Lathered Up About That: The Hammer does believe that one plan, from a local group, to convert the remnant old Georgia-Pacific brick house into a new home for Whatcom Family YMCA, with a badly needed new aquatic center, is in keeping with the civic vibe and borders dangerously close to the sort of common sense God gave a goat. Which means it will immediately be discarded.
Um, Excuse Us? It says here that Whatcom Transportation Authority, the local bus folks, are suddenly concerned about making ends meet, after being reportedly flush with pandemic-relief cash just a few months ago.
Goes Like This: Weeks ago, WTA was said to be so flush that it was being harangued for not spending enough, soon enough, on all-electric buses. Now comes word that an expected budget surplus of $19 million will turn to a projected operating deficit by 2027. The Hammer, like other taxpayers, has a one-word reaction to this: Huh?
Just One Thought: How about an interagency deal with the Port of Bellingham and its Harcourt minions for a Titanic-themed electric bus fleet? Every time you pull the stop cord, a recorded voice cries out: “Iceberg, dead ahead!” Super great family fun.
Meanwhile, Straight From the Mancave Command Chair: New from the futuristic world of Amazon is a cutting-edge video streaming service called Freevee.
Its Primary Feature: It shows you movies and serial shows without a subscription in the traditional sense.
How Does Freevee Make Money? It employs an ingenious new revenue model, using occasional “commercials” interspersed throughout the shows, which are sold for profit. Amazon collects money from these rather than you the viewer to pay for the programming.
Might This Catch On? Highly uncertain! But if it does, The Hammer expects it’s only a matter of time before Amazon starts broadcasting this programming wirelessly, “over the air,” from giant broadcasting towers emitting waves snaggable with a revolutionary, rabbit-eared “antenna” device.
And Then: What if the purveyors of Freevee organized into business groups, you know, like “networks” or something, to schedule said programming at the same time every day and …
On Second Thought: Never mind.
The Hammer is swung on Wednesdays and updated as needed. See an extended version of The Hammer online at cascadiadaily.com.