Affordable housing, who’ll run the airport, who gets the tourism bucks, and the PAC likely to get LED event sign
Affordable and Work Force Housing
The Newport City Council Tuesday night opened the door to broaden its role in helping to promote more affordable as well as work force housing in Newport. A big part of that support comes from a willingness to sell a number of city lots around town that are tax foreclosures or just long time held city property with not much in their future. At an earlier council meeting Lincoln County Commissioner Bill Hall convinced the council to throw some city money into a pot, along with the county and Lincoln City to make the Lincoln County Land Trust more effective at building new or refurbishing older homes for family wage families that otherwise couldn’t afford adequate housing here on the coast.
But Tuesday night City Councilor Dick Beemer urged his fellow councilors to step up Newport’s role in getting behind another housing group, Habitat for Humanity, which promotes new home construction and rehabilitation projects. Beemer said Habitat is likely to build more affordable and work force housing than any other agency and all they really need is land or some surplus homes to rehabilitate. A couple of councilors also recommended that the city figure out which surplus properties should be sold to put some extra money into the city’s piggy bank as opposed to being donated to either the Lincoln County Land Trust or Habitat for Humanity. The council said this expansion of the city’s role for housing seemed like a good idea. So they told City Manager Spencer Nebel to explore it and report back to the council at their second meeting in October.
Airport! Airport! Who’s got the Airport?
The city council Tuesday finally got down to the nitty gritty of exploring ways to get the Newport Airport’s red ink off the city’s balance sheets – amounting upwards of $300,000 a year. The city’s airport advisory committee has been exploring various ideas dealing with airport facility maintenance, selling aircraft gas, and running what’s called a Fixed Base Operator service at the airport. The council told City Manager Spencer Nebel to send out an “RFI” or Request for Interest from PRIVATE companies to assume that role on the airport. The city would, of course, maintain ownership, but with a private company operating it, it might take some or all of that third-of-a-million dollar annual loss off the city’s books and hopefully turn a profit
Tourism Christmas in September
The council approved tourism grant awards to three local entities that are devoted to pulling in more tourists to the Newport area. A $10,000 tourism grant was awarded to the Sea Lion Dock Foundation to help keep them moving on providing renovated docks for the sea lions as well as a tourist observation overlook extension. The extension would protrude outward from the main dock so spectators don’t get in the way of regular commercial fishing traffic on the dock and to allow more tourists to watch the comical antics of the sea lions.
Lincoln County Historical Society awarded funds to enhance entry to Pacific Maritime & Heritage Museum
The council also awarded a tourism promotion grant of $14,000 to the Lincoln County Historical Society to help them fund a rather striking entry area in front of the Pacific Maritime and Heritage Museum on the Newport Bayfront. The society convinced the Port of Newport to loan them the propeller off the now defunct U.S.S. Paisley which made way for improvements to the International Terminal. With the city tourism funds secured, that’s another benchmark in the propeller project.
The Pacific Communities Health Foundation received a $50,000 tourism grant to help build a $2.3 million dollar health education building at the PCH campus. Early in the discussions some councilors questioned PCHF officials how helping them build a health education facility would attract more tourists. The answer was pretty straight-forward – the facility will become a teaching facility for all areas of the medical profession. Various medical conferences and compulsory training updates means that many doctors and other medical professionals will be coming to Newport to stay up to date on various trends in medical research and delivery systems – and of course they’ll bring their families with them which is typical during such lengthy conferences. The fact that the family component is apart from the seminars and workshops, the families will be staying in motels, shopping, dining in restaurants and generally circulating around Newport’s many tourist attractions. That revelation was enough to get a unanimous yes vote from the council.
But the one fly in the ointment was the recommendation that the Salmon For Oregon group receive no recommendation for funding – the review panel determining that while the project has some very strong legs – reestablishing Spring Chinook runs on the Yaquina River and Bay, it’s not completely ready to move forward. The review panel suggested Salmon For Oregon apply for tourism promotion funds next year.
However, City Manager Spencer Nebel told the council that Salmon For Oregon still has the right to appeal the review team’s turn-down. So now the Salmon For Oregon group can file an appeal and be heard during a future council meeting as to why they should get the $25,000 they asked for.
The PAC may soon start glowing a little bit in the dark!
And the city council Tuesday night agreed that LED signs should be allowed on publicly owned property including Newport’s Performing Arts Center. But current city law says LED’s are off limits on city owned property. So the council referred the matter to the town’s planning commission to come up with some new regulations that would make LED signs more attractive and effective at promoting events at the PAC. So we’ll see what the planning commission does with the suggestion.