North Newport: Beach access at Lighthouse, stopping bluff erosion off 57th and improved fire protection
Newport city staff gave some updates this week on major projects planned for the Agate Beach area – on both sides of the Yaquina Head Lighthouse area.
Meeting with residents at the still somewhat new North Newport Fire Hall, Community Development Director Derrick Tokos told residents that the Agate Beach Wayside project must move ahead smartly or the city runs the risk of running past the deadline set by the federal grant which pays for the project. The project’s construction must be underway by late next year or Newport loses the grant.
And along that vein, Tokos says the plan calls for slight ADA improvements to the Lucky Gap trail at the south end. In the central parking lot area, showers and bathrooms just south of Roby’s Furniture, with added parking and an extended Gilbert Street for beach bluff access.
There is also a boardwalk access improvement to the beach on the north end. Anyone who has navigated that pathway knows how dangerous it is due to unstable footing and how the path surface changes over the seasons. Also the path is quite primitive – even to the point that it’s hard to decipher at times due to erosion and other rain/wind sculpting. So the design of the boardwalk down to the beach will be a product of further geological assessments and construction designs. Tokos says he’ll be meeting with the neighbors who have concerns about increased traffic in the area – which Tokos said was the main driver of the federal grant; to make beach access easier, more convenient and more safe for the public. Tokos says all project improvements are on public lands.
Tokos said he’ll be meeting with the neighborhood in the near future to record their concerns as they might affect the design of the boardwalk.
Tokos says the bid package for the Agate Beach Wayside must be awarded by September of next year, or again, they lose the grant.
On another matter, that of bluff erosion close to homes off NW 57th and other erosion issues, state geologist George Priest told the gathering that the hillside and bluff are moving, but mostly during the heavy rains of winter. He said the hill is taking on water up hill from the slide and that solutions center around either shoring up the base of the slide with a very expensive (multi-million dollar) rock and rip-rap project, or trying to intercept the rainwater before it soaks into the hill. There was lots of talk about improving storm drain facilities in the area but it wasn’t clear just exactly what that might cost or a way to pay for it. A storm water master plan for the area is in its final stages and will be released to the public shortly, according to Newport Public Works Director Tim Gross.
Gross also reviewed plans for a new Agate Beach water tank on NE 71st with an accompanied pump station. It will dramatically improve fire flow in the area which is critical so that fire trucks have a chance to put out house and wildland fires quickly.
Wrapped around all these various improvements are questions on how to pay for it all. The “how to” is found in plans to create a new north-end urban renewal district which skims off some of the new property tax revenues collected in the area, derived from property value increases caused by the improvements. Some of the expenditures of these new urban renewal funds are expected to pay for sewer and water line improvements, street improvements and other challenges facing areas north of the Yaquina Bay Bridge – including (can you imagine?!) paving Case Street between 101 and Elizabeth Street! Exactly what improvements will be addressed, in what amounts and where, are subject to future city council public hearings which will be held prior to any decisions being made by the council.