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Lincoln City pursuing Villages trail upgrades – gives tentative “thumbs up” to Logan Road housing development, Community Center recreation fee hike approved, the Devils Lake sewer LID issue is resurrected, and council nixes return of “invocation” after the flag salute

Red line is road access to new trail head off NE Devils Lake Road Courtesy graphic

Broken red line is new NE Devils Lake Road extension ending at new trail head.
The solid line is the new trail intersecting with Forest Service trail north and northwest of the trailhead.
Courtesy graphic

Lincoln City has a chance to link the end of NE Devils Lake Road to a new trail that intersects a new Forest Service trail from the Fraser Road Interpretive Center off 101 near Highway 18, all the way across to Cascade Head – to “The Thumb.”

The three million dollar project is in the planning stages but an application by the city to be a part of it looms later this week which is the deadline for the city to apply to be a partner.

The project largely acts as a grant, but the lion’s share of the money comes from the federal government and requires only about a $156,000 match from Lincoln City. Part of that $156,000 can be offset in staff time, design, construction materials and other soft costs. And remarkably enough, the project is so inviting to the Oregon Department of Parks and Recreation that they’ve invited the city to submit a grant application TO THEM to cover whatever costs still remaining that the feds don’t cover.

Such a deal! The council said ‘go for it!’

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The project would extend NE Devils Lake Road that ends in a cul-de-sac in The Villages. From there, the city would build a road 1,600 feet to the north where it would end at a 20 space parking lot complete with restrooms and a “welcome” kiosk with hiking and trail information. From there a new asphalt trail would continue to head north for another 1,400 feet and intersect with a trail being built by the Forest Service. That trail will begin at their soon-to-exist Fraser Road Information Center near 101 and the Salmon River Estuary down below. The trail from there will head west, pick up the city’s trail and then continue west to Cascade Head, ending at “The Thumb.”

Principal planner Deborah Martzhan said city staff has been working with the Forest Service and the Federal Highway Administration on the project for quite a while. She expressed optimism that the city has a very good chance of grabbing the project and having the city’s portion of it pretty well zero out in terms of cost. Martzhan says the hiking and scenic experience for visitors to the area will be spectacular. She also expects inter-connecting trails to “The Knoll” will nicely tie in as well.

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Logan Park development area off Logan Road near Port.

Logan Park development area off Logan Road near Port.

Logan Road development given tentative “thumbs up”
The Lincoln City City Council gave a tentative “thumbs up” to a long awaited plan by Portland developer Chris Barnes to do something attractive with a timber clear cut scar on the hill overlooking the Logan Road and the south end of Roads End.

Barnes wants the city to annex the 11 acre scar left by a former partner, with whom he is no longer associated, and build what he calls a good mix of housing, all of which will look very upscale with a 3.3 acre park in the middle of it.

Barnes’ architecture firm told the council that it will have the aura of other quality developments in the area that they have had a big hand in developing, including Olivia Beach. The architects say it will be a very attractive 71 unit special development with houses facing the open space with the garages ’round back. It will be built in four phases – the first involving 32 housing units using four-plex designs but will appear as if they’re single family units. The second phase will involve attached and detached single family units, then the rest in single family configurations. Barnes said prices will reflect attention to housing attainable by middle class families. From Logan Park, it’ll be a quick walk to the beach, to shopping, to hiking and entertainment. What’s more they’re contemplating putting in a large roundabout (traffic circle) at the intersection of Logan and Port.

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The council appeared to like what they saw and gave the project tentative approval but only so that Barnes, the city planning department and city attorney can come up with an air tight development agreement between Barnes and the city that he’ll deliver what he promises. Barnes said when completed, his development will transform the area from an being ugly scar to a welcoming gateway to Lincoln City and Roads End.

The council sent the Logan Park plan back to staff and the city attorney to forge the development agreement which will then come back to council with ample time for the public to make comments on it.

Public comment on the project last evening was largely positive with one resident contending that the city’s handling of the project ignored proper procedures in allowing it get as far as it has. Another point raised was that there are nearly 800 empty lots for sale in Lincoln City that don’t require taking in more raw land into the city. But the council was obviously impressed with Barnes and his architecture team and their plans to turn a completely city-surrounded vestige area of the county into an attractive asset by annexing it.

The issue will be coming back to the city in a month or so for more council review and thoughts and observations from the public.

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Community Center recreation rates to rise 10% on average.

Community Center recreation rates to rise 10% on average.

Community Center Recreation programs going to cost 10% more come July 1st
A few members of the city council were having some trouble swallowing a 10% rate hike for residents and drop-ins from out of town when they use community center recreation programs. Center Director Gail Kimberling told the council that ten to 12 years of no rate increases caught up with the city and so they’re raising rates bits and pieces each year to make up for lost ground. She said that by any comparison, for what Lincoln City offers, it is charging less than half as much as community center recreation facilities throughout the region.

Mayor Don Williams tried to make a case that if the center can’t make ends meet then maybe the city needs to take a different tack on what’s offered. City Councilor Jim Davis said senior citizens on a fixed income will be hurt by the increase. And councilor Kip Ward said he understands that the center is being subsidized by the city’s general fund but that other methods of making the deficit less should be explored. One option Ward alluded to earlier in the meeting was expanding the facility into some kind of regional water park that would attract far more visitors and put the whole operation onto more solid footing. He admitted, however, that “alternatives” aren’t in front of them at the moment and the city’s general fund is being hit to the tune of over $300,000 a year to match the center’s costs with its income.

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In the end, councilor Chester Noreikis reminded the council that they have a full report in front of them that shows which category of customer will be hit the hardest, and which ones will be hit the least. Noreikis told his fellow councilors that Kimberling had done a good job of making sure that the rate hike will be levied as fairly as possible. When the roll call vote was called the vote was 5 to 2 to grant the ten percent rate hike starting July 1st. Those voting for the rate hike was Sprague, Noreikis, Ryan, Wahlke, and Ward. Voting no was Mayor Don Williams and Councilor Jim Davis.

Sewering Devils Lake, one pipe at a time...

Sewering Devils Lake, one pipe at a time…

Resurrecting attempts to begin sewering Devils Lake

The city council decided take another swing at sewering Devils Lake, even if in painfully small installments. A more ambitious plan to sign up a lot of shoreline residents failed recently to garner enough support so the council tried another approach. They reduced the number of homes to those more predisposed to getting help from the city at installing sewer collection lines and paving some new streets in their area, complete with storm water ditches that empty into a storm water manhole to pretreat stormwater before it enters the lake. 53 homes in total. The council asked staff to proceed with creating a smaller Local Improvement District (LID) along with LID fees to cover the cost of the installation of pipes, pumps, storm ditches and paving. Over time, it’s hoped that other lake residents will help grow the system as more and more septic tanks fail and allow waste to migrate into the lake which causes horrific toxic algae blooms and makes enjoying the lake virtually impossible, except at a great distance.

City staff was directed to get things moving on the new, but smaller LID.

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Mayor Don Williams: Let’s resume religious invocation at city council meetings – 5-2 vote said no.

And lastly, Mayor Don Williams said he wanted the council to consider putting a prayerful invocation back at the beginning of all city council meetings. He said the U.S. Supreme Court does one – so does the U.S. Congress. Mayor Williams said a number of local church ministers were very excited at the prospect and agreed to take part on a rotating basis among clergy. Williams pointed out that the city charter shows an invocation before the beginning of all city council meetings but was dropped sometime back due to lack of participation by local ministers.

One councilor reminded his fellow councilors of America’s separation between church and state, one of the cornerstones of American Democracy. Councilor Wes Ryan chimed in that if the council wanted to reinstate an invocation, he would insist that it be based on equal representation of holy leaders, including those who are Christian but also Buddhists, Sikhs, Islam, Jews, Wiccan and non-believers along with others who may chose to participate. Ryan said “There are plenty of Lincoln City churches who pray for us already. They don’t have to come down do it down here. And by they way I’m a believer.”

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A visibly rattled Mayor Williams said “I would support opening the invocation to all religious faiths. That way we wouldn’t have to run around and chase them down. This is a huge deal. We should not be afraid or shy away from it.”

The motion to remove religious invocations as being required under city law passed by a vote of 5 to 2. Councilors Wahlke, Ryan, Ward, Noreikis and Sprague voting yes to repeal the law. Mayor Williams and Councilor Jim Davis voting no.

The city attorney will now construct an ordinance repealing the requirement to conduct invocations. No specific date was set for the vote to repeal. An earlier council also ordered the ordinance to be repealed, but apparently nobody got around to actually following through with it.

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