Newport: City Council Moves Ahead on Fluoride Ballot Issue – Farmer’s Market Dispute with Shopping Center – the Cost of Art in Public Places – and Tracking Down Bacteria at Nye Beach
Newport City Councilors voted Monday night to proceed with asking Newport voters whether to put fluoride into the town’s drinking water sometime next year.
The hotly debated issue goes on the May 17, 2016 ballot, simply asking the voters whether they trust scientists who claim that fluoride in domestic water supplies is good for you in terms of dental health or do they trust scientists who claim that fluoride in domestic water supplies is bad for you. And, whether families ought to be given a choice whether to add fluoride to children’s daily lives – either through supplements or merely relying on fluoridated tooth paste.
The city council vote was 5 to 1 on the resolution to put the measure on the ballot but it did not contain the exact ballot language nor the election ballot description of the measure. Several in the audience, including naturopathic Dr. Susan Anderson urged the council to word the ballot issue in a neutral manner without obviously taking sides. She said, from what she’s read of the city’s treatment of the issue, it appears that the council is lobbying for a yes vote instead of a correct vote. Several councilors said when the measure’s wording is finalized it will be neutral – it won’t take sides. The vote will come May 17th and the vote of the people will be final. If it’s yes, fluoridated water will be employed. If the vote is no, it won’t.
So city staff will now begin drawing up the ballot issue with finalization well in advance of the May 17th election.
The Newport Farmer’s Market suffers some growing pains at it’s new location
A dispute of sorts has erupted between the Newport Farmers Market and some of their neighbors next door.
The market was forced to move from it’s original spot on the south side of City Hall to a spot across 101 closer to the county courthouse parking lot at 2nd and 101. Farmer’s Market Board member told the council that she was aware that there had been complaints that farmers market customers were taking up parking spaces in front of the little mall, on 101 just north of SW 2nd, and that she thought the market had done a good job of helping to fix the problem with parking enforcement and signs.
But shopping center owner Brett Fox said that the problem has not been fixed and that it must be fixed by the time the farmer’s market re-opens next spring. They’ve temporarily moved indoors at the Lincoln County Fairgrounds.
One store owner said that farmer’s market customers park in front of her store, fill up her parking spaces and force her customers to keep driving. She told the council she’s lost thousands of dollars of income due to the problem.
Farmer’s Market Board member Katie McLean said the market is committed to being a good neighbor to everyone around them and promised to work closely with everyone to find a solution. She said the market has become very successful, especially during the spring, summer and fall months when they’re outside on the west side of 101. The move over there from the south side of City Hall was to get out of the way of the big swimming pool construction project east of City Hall which is expected to take about a year to build.
The upshot was for city staff to pow wow with both sides in the issue and find a way to make things good for both. There seems to be considerable optimism that they’ll find a way forward – likely with the help of the county and their humongous parking lot to the south of the courthouse.
The idea of putting more art in public places takes a bit of a hit
The city council also heard a complaint that a city rule that mandates 1% of the cost of any city construction project be devoted to public art in front of those new projects sometimes is a hardship for the city. And so the 1% rule should be a recommended amount – not a mandated minimum.
Take the new aquatic center project. It’s over budget due to a number of factors but city officials say they can still deliver the project in a way that some of its amenities can be added later. City Councilor David Allen urged his fellow councilors to understand that although art is nice, fulfilling a promise on a final project to the public should take precedent. He said the mandated art inclusion might be softened to something around .7% – which might be a good compromise, thereby helping to finish the pool in the way it was promised.
But arts booster Carla Perry told the council that the problem with the art sculpture was that Parks and Recreation Director Jim Protiva forgot about the 1% mandatory artisan addition when he helped to draw up the plans. And so the pool went out to bid without it.
Carla Perry went on to clarify that art adornments in and around public buildings don’t have to be strictly sculptures – they can be wall adornments outside or inside buildings, or divided up between various artistic creations. Oregon Coast Council for the Arts chief Katherine Rickbone said her organization is certainly willing to talk with city staff about ways to work out whatever flexibility seems appropriate. Councilor Allen added that an item for discussion might be whether such artistic adornments might not be as artistically applicable to police or fire stations as they are at the library, city hall, recreation center, the aquatic center, at city parks and the like. Rickbone again said “That’s something we can talk about.”
Meanwhile the sculpture chosen by the city council to grace the outside of the new aquatic center has already been approved and is part of the pool’s overall funding program. City Public Works Director Tim Gross said that by closely “bird-dogging and value-engineering” the pool’s construction, they should get everything in that can’t be added later. And if there is anything they were forced to leave out, due to cost, they can add it when the money comes in. Gross says either way the public is going to get exactly what was promised, and then some.
Thar’s Leaky Poo Down Them Thar Pipes
As you may have heard, bacteria counts at the outfall at the Nye Beach Turnaround have been extremely high lately – upwards of 10 times the recommended maximum. Warning signs have gone up at the turnaround alerting the public to stay out of the little creek that flows from a storm drain outfall then seaward into the surf.
Public Works Director Tim Gross says the city and the Surfrider Foundation have teamed up to track down the source of the bacteria, which they say is likely well uphill from the outfall. But so far the search has taken on the aura of a “wild poop chase.” They can’t find the source(s). Gross says many sewer pipes, both wastewater and storm runoff, are old and leaky, giving gravity flows more than ample opportunity to mix together since their lines often run parallel throughout the city. They just leak all over each other.
Gross asked the council to hire a consulting firm to run small TV cameras through Nye Beach area pipes to spot exactly where the infiltration is occurring. The council approved Gross’ request. He said once that data is collected the city can prioritize which ones need fixing right away to lower the bacteria counts at the outfall.