Whither the Harbor Commission
The still under-siege remnants of the Depoe Bay Harbor Commission may be down, but it’s still above the waterline – barely. Normally made up of seven harbor commissioners with considerable knowledge about the World’s Smallest Harbor, the commission is now down to an insufficient number to constitute even a quorum of itself.
As some may recall, more than a few members of the commission were indicted by a Lincoln County Grand Jury on charges of conspiring to cheat the state Department of Fish and Wildlife out of fishing license money collected by the Tradewinds Charter Company in the harbor. Those indicted have been removed from their seats on the harbor commission. It means there is about to be launched a serious recruitment effort to find people to apply for those seats and get the harbor back to being the economic spark-plug for the town that it’s always been.
Councilors said they want to produce a loud and vigorous campaign to recruit new members to the commission. They say there is a lot of work to be done including replacing docks 2, 3, 4 and 5. They say it’ll have to be done with outside grants because the city’s meager tax collecting authority can’t do it alone. There is also the recurring need for dredging that needs to be coordinated and scheduled on a regular basis. There’s also the seawall issue and more.
However Mayor AJ Mattila lamented that the ousted former members of the commission should have been allowed to continue serving since they haven’t yet been convicted of anything. However, the city attorney and other members of the council said it’s not a question of “innocent until proven guilty.” They said the defendants are banned by the court from having business dealings with anything at the harbor pending trial, or anything close to it. So, it is reasoned, those banned no longer have a role on the commission and that their removal was clearly proper. They said the harbor can’t wait for the scandal to go to trial and be resolved because the harbor has needs today that require immediate attention.
Others lamented the recent resignation of Harbor Commissioner Loren Goddard, of Dockside Charters, who they characterized as one of the strongest contributors to the progress made in charting the harbor’s future. One councilor said the rift between the council and the commission had become so painful for Goddard that they understood his reasons for leaving. At that point Mayor Mattila pulled out a letter he had personally written to Goddard thanking him for his service and contributions to the harbor mission. Mattila said he regretted Goddard’s departure and that he’d be welcome back if Goddard could find a way to make it happen. Other councilors said that the commission needs knowledgeable people with a steady hand to help move the harbor’s economic development forward and strongly hinted that they hope that “someday” Goddard will re-up.
In the meantime the council will advertise the commission’s numerous vacancies and they will try to get the local news media to do put their shoulder into the search by writing informative articles concerning the importance of getting the port back on track.
The council then re-constituted the commission’s membership – expanding the commission from 7 members to 9 – the two extra being non-voting but somewhat expert on environmental or regulatory issues or knowledgeable on economic growth and aspects related to it. The regular 7 voting members would be made up of no more than two non-residents of Depoe Bay, no more than two with direct financial ties to the harbor with special consideration for those with environmental, business and other specialized expertise.
Renewing Depoe Bay Chamber of Commerce contract to promote tourism
The city council also renewed a multi-year contract with the Depoe Bay Chamber of Commerce – awarding them just under five thousand dollars a year to promote special tourist attracting events throughout the year which the chamber coordinates and presents. City Councilor Steve Sparks expressed interest in the Chamber exploring whether it’s possible to set up their offices in the Whale Center next to the bridge to better serve visitors to Depoe Bay by being more out and among them. Chamber Board member Bea Ray said it’s an idea worth exploring but cautioned that the Whale House is owned by State Parks which may or may not welcome such a move.
Taking a bit more time to get it perfect at the sea wall!
And the council learned that the city’s Scenic Lands Park will be given a little more time to be fully complete and ready for tourists next summer. The new facility near Tidal Raves comes with a staircase going down the side of the bluff overlooking the sea wall to a landing. The spot will offer views overlooking spectacular pounding wave action and unbelievably beautiful sunsets.