Newport’s new City Manager Spencer Nebel sat down for the first time with his entire new City Council and the topic was getting the city’s advisory committee on bike and pedestrian facilities to lay out their priorities for the next few years. The committee, meeting with the council, reported they have four major priorities they’d like the council to consider:
1. Putting more sharrows on the streets – those big white pavement signs that show the outline of a fat bicycle and four white stripes above it. They’re already prevalent on 6th Street, Oceanview and Naterlin Drive. The committee wants more of them placed on Bay Road, Nye, NE Eads, Coast and Elizabeth Streets and on 11th. They also want them on the Yaquina Bay Bridge and in state parks north and south of the bridge.
2. They want to get bicyclists off Oceanview Drive where it gets real curvey and the pavement is very narrow from NW 21st all the way south to NW 12th. The committees idea is to direct bicyclists at both ends of that bad stretch and sent it east to Nye Lane and then back on to Oceanview at 21st and 12th.
3. The Bike/Ped Committee told the council they also want to create a trail connecting the Agate Beach Wayside Trail to the sidewalk on the west side of Highway 101 from 31st. It would get pedestrians from 36th to 31st off of 101 which has cars whizzing by at 50 mph just inches from walkers, runners and bicyclists. Those gathering at 31st would go down and through the tunnel to the Agate Beach Wayside, then north across Big Creek (the bridge is already in) and up to level with 101 at the Best Western Agate Beach Hotel. From there they begin the sidewalk that goes south to the stop light at 101 and 25th.
4. The committee’s final short term goal is to enable walkers and runners to better connect the west end of the Bayfront to Pacific Communities Hospital with a sidewalk from Naterlin up Harbor to the hospital.
Bike/Ped Committeewoman Mary Ann Bozza asked how the city would like to proceed on the requests, and after some brief discussion about all four projects they heard City Manager Spencer Nebel say that all of it will have to be carefully evaluated by staff. He agreed that two of them seem to be more ready that the other two – the more ready being painting a portion of the sharrows requested, and a sidewalk from Naterlin at Bay Street up to the hospital. The trail enhancement from 31st to the Best Western and the bicycle trail realignment along Oceanview need more examination and certainly some engineering drawings and cost estimates. Nebel said that he and staff would review the proposals and have a report back to the city council sometime in February with some options on how to proceed forward on the four goals as laid out by the Bike/Ped Committee.
Nebel was also faced with a long simmering dispute among councilors as to the city’s current form of business license. Councilor Ralph Busby said although the current city’s business license hasn’t been on the books very long there is a great need to change it to make it more fair and functional – for instance a one person business pays the same amount for a business license as Walmart. Other controversial aspects remain including condos rentals vs. other vacation rentals, business license rules, time to get the license out to the business after application, etc.
Nebel agreed that the issue should go to a committee made up of Councilors Ralph Busby and Mark Saelens with other members to include the city manager, city finance director, city attorney, and a member of the planning commission. Once the committee comes up with a series of options, their report will be forwarded to the council for their consideration and to make any changes they deem appropriate.