If mayor and owner of Sullivan Plumbing
, Gary Jensen
, has his
way, Ferndale will have a whole new story to tell.
Nearly 80 percent of retail sales tax dollars are lost to other towns, Jensen
That's something he
wants to change.
"We're a commuter economy," Jensen
"Our largest retail sales tax provider is Haggen Foods.
I want to keep Ferndale dollars in Ferndale."
A life-long resident of Ferndale, Jensen
can remember when everything he
needed, from a new pair of socks to milk, was purchased by his
family in Ferndale.
In recent years, however, with the development of Bellingham and the Bellis Fair mall, Ferndale's shoppers were looking elsewhere for cheaper merchandise.
Not everything fits in a box
Ideally the residents of Ferndale could find everything they need within the city limits and wouldn't have to travel to get what they're looking for, he
"The small independent shops are an economic blueprint that doesn't work anymore," he
Much debate has sparked recently over this dilemma and whether or not a small town like Ferndale should bring in a "Big Box" retailer.
With cheap, available land the lure of being the only "one-stop" shopping experience, retail executives and investors are chomping at the bit, Jensen
Stores like Wal-Mart and Fred Meyer
, among others, have been rumored to want to build but none have committed so far, and for nearly half the residents, "it's best to keep things the way they are."
"I represent the people who voted for me as well as those who didn't," he
"But I don't have the right to tell anyone where they should shop.
If someone can buy a gallon of milk cheaper somewhere else, who am I to tell them they can't?"
Some larger chain eateries have started to stake their claim in keeping residents in town.
Fast food restaurants like McDonalds and Dairy Queen have been a quick dinner for families for decades but franchises like Sonic, Dominoes, Quiznos and Jack-In-The-Box have seen the limited choice of food options and are creating competition in business centers like Ferndale Station.
"People won't go hungry in Ferndale," Jensen
Smaller businesses like Woods Coffee and Grants Burgers, which previously occupied the space of Ferndale Station, are creating variety for the hungry citizens.
Real Estate value
While campaigning for mayor, Jensen
rang every doorbell in town and what he
found shocked him a little.
The majority of people he
talked to said they had moved to Ferndale in the past decade.
The "EAGLE Building Standard," a set of rules and city ordinances that must be passed before new commercial construction begins has been both a blessing and sometimes a deal-breaker when trying to bring in new business, Jensen
According to the EAGLE standards businesses have to have sidewalks, traffic lights and storm drains before opening.
Typically businesses are given up to six years to comply, but not in Ferndale.
"Growth should have to pay for growth," he
These qualifications weed out potential businesses that might want to take advantage of the city, he
It's also part of his
plan to ensure the city rebounds quickly after the economic troubles plaguing the rest of the country.
"The easy response to the economic turmoil would be to simply stay in bed and pull the covers over our heads and wait for someone else to solve the problem," Jensen
"But that's just not how I was raised nor how I run my business or this city."
Ferndale is still underdeveloped and raw, he
The advantage is the ability to see other cities' prior success and failures and to make sure Ferndale doesn't fall into the same pitfalls, he
Mayor Gary Jensen, owner of Sullivan Plumbing, brings his business acumen to growing economic development in Ferndale.
Young, involves a new thoroughfare, redirecting traffic from Main Street.
The project ranked fourth on Whatcom County Council of Government's
project in line for President Obama's stimulus package last summer.
A gift of property from BNSF Railroad, running from the east side of the railroad from Washington Street to the north of the former Simplot tract, a $900,000 value, once developed, will give commuters another option when driving to and from the downtown area of Ferndale, Jensen
"We must continue to explore every available option to reduce traffic on Main Street," Jensen
Boundary Bay Brewery and other business have expressed interest in either occupying one of the buildings along the new traffic route or starting new construction, he
"Our EAGLE commercial building regulations are the talk of the state and beyond," he
Ferndale's mixture of rural, industrial, commercial and residential brings hope to its citizens, Jensen
"When a project comes to Ferndale, large or small, we are equipped and ready to achieve that focus," he
As spring nears, Jensen
said the timing is perfect for Ferndale to see intelligent growth and economic expansion, as long as the focus stays on creating a better Ferndale.