Former Newport city councilor Jeff Bertuleit appeared to strike out again Tuesday night in front of the council on his request for additional study money to see if his group’s dream of an aquatic center at South Beach is feasible. Bertuleit said that The Friends of the Oregon Coast Aquatic Park secured partial funding from the Lincoln County Board of Commissioners early last year, but it was contingent on getting other funds from other sources – like the Newport City Council or other agencies or entities.
The aquatic park idea has been looking for funding of one sort or another for several years. Bertuleit says the size and scale of the project has changed in that time, hence the need to do another feasibility study to test out the changes through EcoNorthwest – an economic development consultancy in Portland – said to be the gold standard in Oregon in its category.
But city councilors were very cool to the idea of awarding more money than the $30,000+ the city has already contributed in recent years for consulting services.
Bertuleit said the market has changed and the economy has changed over those years – hence the need for an upgraded study. Bertuleit said promoters are examining several South Beach sites but a prime site is off South 40th. Mayor Sandra Roumagoux asked, “who owns that land?” Bertuleit quickly replied, “I do. But there other potential sites, too.”
Councilors Ralph Busby and David Allen said they might be willing to vote for further contributions to the aquatic park effort if the council could see financial support coming from more than just the county commission and the city council. And that’s where the council left it – with a challenge to Bertuleit and his Friends of the Oregon Coast Aquatic Park to find other entities to put some money on the table.
Councilors also heard their community development director say that South Beach Urban Renewal Agency funds are pretty well targeted to already agreed to community improvements. Councilors agreed that they would not like to see a diversion of funds away from current South Beach urban renewal and economic development work, an effort that city staff has pursued for a number of years.
In other council action, the city ordered a 2013 Chevy Tahoe for the fire department which will be the department’s on scene emergency command station, brimming with communication radios and other electronics, for any and all emergencies that may arise in the future. It replaces an older model SUV that has seen other days and which does not offer the room needed for a fully equipped mobile command station. The council went along with the request, approving the $32,400 price tag and approved painting the new vehicle fire engine red. What else would they paint it?
And the council established the dates for the three public town hall meetings the council will hold at various locations around the city. They scheduled for March 31st, June 30th and September 29th. Times and specific locations will be announced later.