Western’s urban planning students have Ferndale on their minds these days.
Residents and officials in the northern Whatcom County town of Ferndale know their community is expected to grow, and they want that growth to energize their downtown. It’s a perfect challenge for the Urban Transitions Studio, the applied research lab of Western’s urban planning and sustainable development major, where students are immersed in the question all year under the direction of Professors Nick Zaferatos and Tammi Laninga.
“For years, Ferndale residents have been calling downtown Bellingham their downtown,” says Zoe Watson, an urban planning student from Puyallup. “They want to create an image and character for Ferndale through the revitalization of their own downtown.”
All year the students have been analyzing data, meeting with community members, and presenting suggestions. “We had to find ways to be creative, inventive and imaginative while also remaining practical, ethical and rational,” says urban planning student Allison Tompkins of Sultan.
Students created three plan alternatives and about a dozen studies of parks and trails, affordable housing, urban design guidelines and infrastructure improvements. Their work will wrap up this spring, which the students hope will help Ferndale imagine its own future—while marking the beginning of the students’ own professional careers.