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Cool pool news –
Newport Public Works Director Tim Gross gave a glowing report Monday evening to the city council on how plans for the new Newport Municipal Swimming Pool are coming along. In short – swimmingly. There’s even going to be enough parking.
Gross said although the new pool will wipe out quite a few parking spaces, the plan is to put additional parking along the west side of 10th street just to the east along with a new full length sidewalk. More parking is also contemplated for the south side of city hall along Angle. They’ll take out all the grass and hillside and fill it in with striped parking. They’ll re-locate the rain garden around to the east side. They’ll also re-configure parking for the police department and the senior center with universal access to Highway 101. Gross said they’ll have what should be enough parking for city workers, visitors to the senior center, the recreation center and to the new pool.
The only hitch is that it’s just enough parking without having one of the three main parking users having a special event. A swim meet, a regional basketball tournament or a big senior citizen center program. All three entities will have to check with the others before scheduling a high volume event.
Gross said parking could become a problem again if the Farmer’s Market remains on the east side of 101. For that reason they may find it more convenient to locate the market on the west side of 101, opposite Angle. There is also plenty of parking on the west side of 101 on Saturdays. It should also reduce the number of people crossing 101 at the crosswalk and having to wave the yellow flags in the air so oncoming drivers can see them.
As for the pool design itself, Gross and the architect said they have enough money to make good on all the the ingredients alluded to on the bond measure passed many months ago. Big 8 lane pool, multi-use pool and a hot tub with easy access for those using wheelchairs. Well lit, lots of room, spectator seating for swim meets and intelligently connected to the recreation center with activity rooms in between the pool and the recreation center’s main desk, which will also double as the main desk for the pool. Pool users will use the recreation center main desk, then proceed to the men’s and women’s locker rooms. Pool spectators will walk in, hang a right, traverse a covered walkway and emerge inside the new pool facility.
Gross said the pool project is still on time and within budget and that the big challenge about parking appears solved. He said the pool will be ready for its grand opening in late Summer of 2016.
Gross said pictures of the pools final plans and parking reconfiguration will be posted on the Newport Public Works Department’s Facebook page for all to see. Also on the city’s “Mind Mix” site as well as on the regular Newport city website.
Agate Beach – Your water tank finally cometh –
Public Works Director Tim Gross reported that they opened the bids on the new Agate Beach water tank. And the good news is that it came under bid estimates. A $400,000 savings. Gross said “We’ll take it!” The tank will fortify local water pressure and quantity to ensure enough water to put out serious wildland or building fires.
Sewer and water project upgrades via “Lids”
Well, maybe the word isn’t “lids” but the city council was referring to “Local Improvement Districts.” As everyone knows Newport is exactly like most communities across the country. The explosion of sewer, water, streets and highway expansions in the 1950s through 1980s are, decades later, rotting in the ground. They have to be replaced. The city doesn’t have the money to pay for the projects up front so they’ve been scrambling trying to figure out how to raise the money without jacking utility rates up through the roof. One option, Local Improvement Districts, or “Lids,” was tentatively approved by the council Monday night as ONE of SEVERAL funding mechanisms. There will be others, including urban renewal, but LIDS will likely become more common. Public Works Director Tim Gross predicted that LIDS are expected to be approved by property owners in certain neighborhoods. Neighbors will agree to property tax increases to pay off the loans or bonds the city floats to install new pipes. City officials say the financial hit to homeowners could be softened if the city wins grants or low interest loans for some of the plumbing replacement but they caution against counting on those sources for money. Every city and county across the country is competing for smaller and smaller federal and state funds to where many communities hold out no hope that grants or loans will do all the heavy lifting.