Urban Renewal to the rescue – again…
Newport City Councilors Monday night approved the creation of a new “central-to-north” urban renewal area to improve local sewer and water lines, giving the downtown a facelift (if not a make-over) and helping with utility improvements in the Agate Beach area. Urban renewal districts are like a kickstarter program – city urban renewal bonds are sold to private investors. Money from the bond sales pays for infrastructure improvements which boosts property values. Higher property values means higher taxes are paid, which pays off the bonds. The city has been grappling with ways to replace miles of aging sewer and water lines without jacking up utility bills. By spreading the cost over more of the city tax base, using urban renewal, the average tax burden to each property owner is less.
The other urban renewal area officially approved by the city council involves the McLean Point area – the area north and west of the big LNG tank on the bay. The city and the port are partnering to get the International Terminal more fully prepared to handle major international shipping of Oregon exports including agricultural products, raw logs as well as finished wood products. This particular urban renewal area is expected to take a little longer to evolve.
The Great Oregon Shake-Out – October 15th, 10:15am – Write it down!
The council also was told by City Manager Spencer Nebel that the city will be participating in the Great Oregon Shake-Out – a drill as if the “big one,” the Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake and tsunami, has hit the coast. It will involve only city buildings, like city hall, the police and fire departments, the senior center and the recreation center. The drill is set for October 15th at 10:15am at which time the alarms will go off, and everyone leaves the buildings – doesn’t matter where you are or what’s going on – you’re headed for the door. There will be staging areas outside all city buildings where people will congregate for a short time – and then everybody will go back in and resume what they were doing prior to 10:15. Lots of note-taking by city employees recording how it all went.
Envisioning what Newport will look and feel like in 2040
Citizen discussions and a basic outline of how to envision Newport’s future has been written down and delivered to the council. The Newport Vision Committee got the ball rolling and it rolled right into the laps of the city council last evening. The council thanked the committee and invited them to stick around a little longer to help shepherd the process to the next level. The council agreed that although the preliminaries have been nailed down, getting specific will take more work under the guidance of a savvy consultant to clarify everything – to sharpen the look, function and feel of Newport in 2040. The council decided the next step will be to expand the committee membership from: a city councilor, planning commission member, and members from the chamber of commerce, Port of Newport, Oregon Coast Community College and two citizens at large, TO ADD: a representative from the Lincoln County School District, Lincoln County government, a marine scientist, a religious leader, someone from the arts and culture segment of the community and one more city councilor.
City Manager Spencer Nebel said he will report back to the council next meeting to explore the next step – which is figuring out what kind of consultant they want to hire to help guide the visioning process. Newport 2040. It’ll be here sooner than we know.