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A crowd so big Monday night at OCCC they had to move it to the other end of the campus. And even there it remained crowded – lots of folks showing up to get an update on what the future holds for South Beach, that area lying immediately south of the bridge.
City officials guided them through what’s planned for the area, short and long range.
Newport Community Development Director Derrick Tokos said the city is picking up steam on a number of major improvements on the west side of 101, west and south of Safe Haven Hill – the Coho Brant area.
Tokos said Abalone Street will be extended to Southwest 35th and SW Anchor Way. It’ll cost $1.27 million and should be done by summer of next year. He said it will be the main in-and-out route for the proposed new OMSI Coastal Discovery Center.
Tokos also outlined the $700,000 paving job for SW Brant from SW 27th to SW 30th. Construction is set for the spring-summer of next year.
Another South Beach improvement will be a new signal light at Highway 101 and 35th. Part of the project is to remove the signal light at 32nd. Then they’ll close the Ferry Slip at 101 intersection and put in bike and pedestrian paths along Highway 101 from the bridge to SE 35th.
Ferry Slip will be widened from SE Ash north to SE 32nd to provide an alternate route for bikers and walkers. That’s a 2015 project.
Tokos said a big 2.3 acre ‘block-piece’ currently used for industrial purposes at the northeast corner of SE 35th and 101 is the subject of negotiations between the landowner and the city of Newport. Tokos said the city might buy it and then make it suitable for regular shopping and other consumer services south of the bridge, which are sorely lacking in the area. Tokos said if the city buys it and develops it properly, the city might break even on the deal, which is always a good thing in urban renewal projects. He said they ought to know whether or not it’ll happen by this winter.
On to the next featured item – the up and coming new satellite campus of the Portland-based Oregon Museum of Science and Industry planned for a spot right off Abalone in the Coho-Brant neighborhood. OMSI Vice President of Programs Jamie Hurd said OMSI is confident that their $10 million dollar addition to their family of campuses will be fully funded by the time the facility breaks ground next year. It’s scheduled to open in April of 2016. The Newport Coastal Discovery Center will offer classes and outdoor camps to give participants hands-on experience with the critters, swimmers and bloomers of marine science. Hurd says five thousand children and their families a year will stay at the new facility off Abalone and explore sand dune ecology to ocean observation – wave energy to sustainable fishing. Hurd said the camp will be a very busy place every season of the year which should make it a powerful contributor to Newport’s economy.
The next big thing was a very big thing indeed…the Hatfield Marine Science Center announcing that it’s already received a $20 Million donation to the proposed new HMSC Marine Science Building that will house classrooms, labs and other work areas for a growing HMSC faculty and research center. The $50 million dollar, 100,000 square foot facility will anchor the HMSC campus on its western flank near Marine Science Drive. No word yet on when construction might begin, but with a $20 Million dollar head-start and with OSU’s legendary reputation for raising capital, it won’t be long. In fact HMSC Director Bob Cowen says they’re also planning to grow the marine science campus over the next ten years to make room for up to 500 undergraduate students who will be attending a new campus of Oregon State University in Newport devoted to marine sciences – all this by 2025.
A NOAA representative was also on hand to remind the 200+ town hall participants that NOAA’s third anniversary of being in Newport is July 1st. He promised growth and good things ahead for the NOAA Marine Operations Center – Pacific headquarters in Newport.
And Wilder Residential Community told the gathering that they intend to continue to pay homage to low impact, sustainable housing which they’ve been building just outside the Oregon Coast Community College campus. They showed maps of their new construction areas as well as their new coffee shop that they hope will be a center of gravity for those who work and play in Newport and who want to see a more enlightened form of housing design and livability.