The Death of the Barracks in Fairhaven

THE DEATH OF THE BARRACKS IN FAIRHAVEN by Vago Damitio The whole housing thing in Fairhaven is somewhat chaotic right now. Sherry Jubilo is still sitting in the Barracks, waiting for bulldozers to come in and tear em down. She turned down $10,500 to move out of a building she was renting. That confused me and … Continue reading “The Death of the Barracks in Fairhaven”


rambling man columnThe whole housing thing in Fairhaven is somewhat chaotic right now. Sherry Jubilo is still sitting in the Barracks, waiting for bulldozers to come in and tear em down.

She turned down $10,500 to move out of a building she was renting. That confused me and a lot of other people.

When I heard that this would be the week she was served papers I thought it was high time I visited the barracks and talked with her. At first when I walked up she thought I was there to give her the eviction notice. When I told her I was Ramblin’ Man she looked relieved. She offered me a glass of lemonade and we began to talk.

Over the course of an hour and a half, I heard a lot of what I’ve read in the paper and heard on the radio…and a lot I haven’t. Under the Happy Valley plan, the city bought the lot behind the current firestation so that the station could be expanded. After the controversial Chuckanut Ridge Development was okayed the Happy Valley plan was scrapped. Developers decided the need for a new firestation would be a good excuse to “ rid a high crime area of some problem housing” , a ridiculous description.

In fact, no permission or permit for the fire station has been approved yet. The Land Trust figured out a way to build the proposed fire station and save the low rent barracks. This plan could’ve torn down Sherry’s unit. To quote Sherry

“ I would rather of had them tear my unit down and save this community” .

Instead the city decided some, and then all of the barracks must go. The Land Trust’s plan would’ve given the city the land for free and kept low income housing available, instead, the city has spent nearly 3/4 of a million dollars to pay the former tenants cash, get relocation assisstance, and buy the land. The fire station hasn’t even been started yet. The lot behind the current station remains unused. I asked Sherry what she was trying to accomplish.

“ I would like the next time the city is looking for a piece of land that they would remember how difficult this has been and choose the vacant lot.” .

“These places are history for sure,” I said, “ Where will you go? Will you live in your car?”

No she has a friend she will stay with. Will she pay the backrent, if the city demands it?

“ That’s the most confusing part to me” she said “ The city should be thanking me. They offered to pay me $10,500 and I refused. They say I owe them $2,300. That means subtracting what I owe, I’ve saved the taxpayers $8200 !!”

“Why do you stay?”

“Staying here is a way of keeping the conversation going. If the city had $300,000 to spend, it shouldn’t of been given to us “

We talked a bit longer and I left with a different opinion than I arrived with. Here it is: She’s crazy for not taking the $10,500. That could of been two years rent paid in a decent place. Now she’ll have to find a way to pay the extra rent she has been forced into. She has allowed a dream to take precedence over the cold reality we live in. Supply and demand, there’s more people all the time, they need places to live, rent goes up, people who are brave enough to live outside the system- outside of the 9 to 5 grind get screwed.

You have to have a certain moral courage to stand up for what you believe in, even if it means getting screwed by a burrough of a city that is consistently squeezing the art, music, and the free thinking culture which defined it out of existence  More tract housing is an ugly idea, but who knows,, they may tear down the barracks use the existing station as recommended by the Happy Valley Plan, sell the barracks to a greedy slumlord, build a huge, ugly, apartment complex on the site of the present barracks, and say “Oops!” . I am so sick of these penny pinching tight wad rich guys ruining our neighborhoods with shoddily built apartment complexes that they charge good working people too much to live in. They destroy the spirit of a neighborhood or town by upping the rent on artistic enterprises.

By Sherry Jubilo’s estimate roughly a quarter of the 200 people she has known who lived at the Barracks, were artists or musicians. You never know, Picasso may work for the park service, Mozart might work construction, and Hemingway could be writing commercials for radio. We don’t really let people do their thing. Our society does not encourage the artistic, unless it is in the time after your 9 to 5 job at Walmart ( its not capitalized intentionally) . No, our society encourages us to halfway build parking garages on the backsides of historic buildings, build view obstructing hotels and leave them closed, and drive from the county to work in town. Face it, we might as well have world war III (Nostradamus says it will start in July of 1999 and last 7 months, right thru Y2K.)

I love Fairhaven

I wrote this little blurb for the local Bellingham newspaper The Every Other Weekly back in 2003.

I love Fairhaven

by Vago Damitio

I absolutely love where I live. Mountains, coastline, lakes, streams. The natural beauty is incredible, but everybody knows that. I love where I live. I live in Fairhaven

About 100 years ago, what is now called Bellingham was made up of Whatcom, Bellingham, Sehome, and Fairhaven. Fairhaven was a swinging litttle boomtown. Brothels, bars, and hotels lined the streets, including the fanciest hotel that had ever been built in the Pacific Northwest, The Fairhaven. Mark Twain and William Howard Taft both stayed there.It was all in anticipation of Fairhaven becoming the terminus for the Northern Railroad, but the railroad never came. But that wasn’t the end.Fairhaven remained distinct as a home to adventurous spirits and free thinkers. In the 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s Fairhaven was a natural gathering place for the beat generation, hippies, protesters, and intellectuals. The Canadians turned back fleeing progressive youth who settled here. Sure, it’s a little “gift shoppy” these days, but wait til’ the Cruise Industry comes!

Coast Gaurd ships and even the Rainbow Warrior have already graced our little town. Fairhaven has everyting but a disco, an auto parts store, and a music shop for cd’s and music. Would someone please open those three business’s?

Here is my promised review of a few places:
1) Bob’s burgers and brew-huge burgers and fries. Bukowski-like bar and regulars. Fantastic Sunday Brunch. A little spendy, but good.**1/2
2)Skylarks has great atmosphere and tasty food. ****
3)Winns has the best butterscotch shakes in town.Cheap and not corporate!***1/2
4)The Chat Noir is the classiest joint in town!****
and I had another *** for The Daily Wrap, but I see they are closed. What a bummer. I think it happened because they raised the price of their basic black bean and rice wrap.Add The Daily Wrap to my list of auto parts, music, and disco.