The Depoe Bay City Council suffered through a few awkward moments Tuesday night but on a 4 to 3 vote finally decided to keep things simple when it comes to renewing a lease from the Robison brothers down in the harbor, who provide space for public restrooms for boaters and visitors to the harbor. The Robison brothers will get a letter from the city asking them to agree to renew the city’s lease agreement with them to keep the public restrooms open.
For the past couple of meetings there have been series of what appeared to be misunderstandings about the nature of the city’s long time leasing agreement with the Robinson family that operates a commercial fishing operation on the harbor. The fact that there is no surplus land anywhere around the harbor for the city to build its own public restrooms, the city long ago had the Robisons build the restrooms so the city could lease them. And over the years the Robisons have charged a nominal annual leasing fee and the city picked up the cost of maintenance and upkeep of the facility.
However, over the past month, several city councilors seemed less than pleased with the fact that the city was renting space from the Robisons rather than owning iy. They made it clear that they wanted to build something the city could own. But again, there is no extra room down there in the World’s Smallest Harbor according to city staff.
Councilor Barbara Leff said she couldn’t understand why anyone would oppose renewing the lease when there was no other option to preserve public restroom facilities in the harbor. She said she was extremely frustrated and felt some members of the council were not being adults about the matter by stubbornly opposing the lease just because they’d rather own the facilities than rent them. Councilors Leff and Goddard pointed to the Robison brothers in the audience and implored the councilors to talk to them. Councilor Zeke Olsen offered a motion that the city attorney talk with the Robison family attorney about the situation. When the vote was taken, a visibly frustrated Councilor Brent Berry, who normally sides with the conservatives on the council, jumped ship and voted with councilors Leff, Goddard and Hoitink in voting no. The motion failed 4 to 3.
Councilor Leff then made the motion to send a letter to the Robisons seeking a renewal of the lease for another three years. The motion passed 4 to 3, with Olsen, Mattila and Gambino again on the losing end. Clerk Recorder Pury Murray said she would get the letter off to the Robisons right away.
When approached by News Lincoln County, the Robison brothers said they were amenable to the city’s request (however divided) to renew the lease and are looking forward to receiving the letter. They didn’t offer any specifics as to what the terms might be for the next three years but added that they have always been flexible with the city on rates – making sure that they’re reasonable in that the restrooms are a public service provided by the city for the convenience of tourists and fishermen, both of which add substantially to Depoe Bay’s economy.
And in other Depoe Bay City Council doings…the council offered the city Superintendent of Public Works position to current Supervisor Brady Weidner. Weidner took over several months ago for the retiring Terry Owings. Weidner was lauded for his hard work and his compilation of over 400 hours of accrued vacation pay, for which he will be paid for over the next couple of months. His starting salary will be about mid-range, $72,500 a year. But since he is now what’s called an “exempt” employee, he will no longer be eligible for overtime pay. So to make up for that (because they’re not hiring anyone to take his old job) Brady will be setting lofty goals for himself, the accomplishment of which will qualify him for “bonuses.”
And Clerk Recorder Pury Murray announced to the council that the city has just been awarded a $50,000 grant from ODOT to repave Bay Street, from Conway to Bayview, and SE Williams from Bay to Collins. The repaving will be done during next year’s construction season.