Saturday, June 25, 2011

Lake Whatcom and a Special Thanks to Dennis Jones

Setting good policy and its impact on the land is about people. If we only looked at land and policy setting from a strict land perspective, it would be easy to develop smart sensible land use policies. But people are part of setting policy as well.

Lake Whatcom is the drinking water source for half of Whatcom County and the entirety of Bellingham. Unfortunately at one time the land around the lake was nearly all privately owned so protecting the lake has involved people - a lot of people with a lot of different interests. Over the past 20 years significant land use policies and decisions have come up on Lake Whatcom: Land transfers, zoning changes that reduced development potential, land purchases, development regulations, lake specific forest regulations for the public land, and rules for motorized boats. Many of these tasks were exceedingly difficult and I found myself in the middle of them as a member of the County Council and as a geologist.

No matter what the specific policy issue on the Lake, Dennis Jones was there to testify. He was always positive even with County Council members that were obstructive or with city officials that were passive. And had great follow through. After a policy was voted on and he would often be at the next meeting to say thanks. Due what I felt were severe problems on the lake I proposed a development moratorium for the lake until the Council could complete development of appropriate stormwater and development regulations. This was not a popular move, but it passed. I was invited to a meeting with a fairly hostile crowd to answer questions and take my required beating. Dennis Jones was there. He mellowed the crowd out better than anyone else could have. It was brave but also a kind thing to do and I will always appreciate what he did and said at that meeting. It made a huge difference to not only me but the public and in the end for much better policy.

Dennis certainly did not come across as a fighter, but the last time a Lake Whatcom issue was before the Council, he was there. He was clearly ill. He was a greater fighter for the lake. He symbolized about as well as anyone I have ever know what good land use policy is about people. Thanks Dennis.

Dennis R. Jones, 66, passed away peacefully at home on June 20, 2011. He was born April 9, 1945 in Burbank, Calif., to Reynard and Helen "Jerry" (McGowan) Jones. High school sweethearts Dennis and Heidi married on August 20, 1966, in Los Altos, Calif. Dennis was a loving husband, father, and grandfather. He was a teacher and a business owner, and spent the last decade of his life as a community activist. A passionate man, Dennis' pursuits included soccer, sailing, and working to better his community, especially in his efforts to preserve the water quality of Lake Whatcom. Dennis is survived by his loving wife of 44 years, Heidi, daughter Dianna (husband Daniel) Murray of Seattle and their children Alek, Clark, Miki, and Kyler, son Eric (wife Jocelyn) Jones of Olympia and daughters Spirit and Teagan, son Simon (wife Tahney) Jones of Seattle and their son Alex, son Stefan Jones of Seattle, and sister Teresa (husband Neal) Cabrinha of Saratoga, Calif. In recognition of their compassionate care for Dennis, memorials may be made to Whatcom Hospice. A celebration of Dennis' life will be held at Westford Funeral Home at 2 p.m. on Sunday, June 26, followed by a reception across the street at Westford's Broadway Hall. You may view photos of Dennis' life and share memories with the family at Westford Family Funeral Home & Cremation

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