Newport: Farmer’s Market might move slightly this year, and vote coming up on a new Fairgrounds/Expo Building
Where the Newport Farmer’s Market might have to move to, for the upcoming Spring and Summer, is not exactly known, but it seems safe to assume that it won’t be far.
When the Newport City Council sat down with the County Commissioners recently, city councilors tried to work out an arrangement for the Farmer’s Market which, due to the construction of the new Newport Aquatic Center, has migrated down 2nd Street, within eyeshot of the county government complex. The question was posed to the commissioners and County Counsel Wayne Belmont, whether the Farmers Market could use some of the county’s expansive parking lot, south of the courthouse, on 2nd. The answer from Belmont was a rather firm NO. Belmont said the county is in the midst of consolidating county workers and buildings into a centralized campus, including new county health facilities. He said the trend is to more fully use what’s there without giving any of it up.
Farmer’s Market officials say that in light of the parking problems the market appears to cause for the antique mall on the corner of 2nd and 101, they’re going to have to figure out something a bit farther to the west – perhaps closer to Nye and the Post Office. They say even if it takes visibility of the Market out of direct view of passing 101 traffic, they presumably could have sign carrying folks on the corner of 101 and 2nd directing folks west on 2nd or to simply remind them that the market is open and just to the west of 101. They say it’s probably for only one season, after which their original location on Angle, just south of City Hall, would again be available to house the market. That spot is currently covered with construction machinery and material, all of which is building the new Aquatic Center behind City Hall. They should be done building it well before the Farmer’s Market Spring/Summer season in 2017.
The Farmers Market is currently housed on Saturdays at its winter home at the fairgrounds through April.
County Commissioners testing the waters to fund a new Fairgrounds Expo Hall
County Commissioners are trying to figure out how to please a whole flock of people with different expectations and all at the same location. 4-H and Lincoln County Cooperative Extension know that the current Lincoln County Fairgrounds buildings are on their last legs. Gravity is starting to take over the old buildings, not to mention electrical and other important support systems.
After many community meetings, consultant reports and opinions from the community, it appears that the county commissioners are leaning toward a multi-use facility that would accommodate “fairgrounds-type” activities while also doubling as an exposition and meeting hall complex.
The price tag, however, is enough to make the commissioners groan – likely to be close to ten million dollars. The commissioners already have some money in the bank toward some kind of fairgrounds/expo facility and the city of Newport appears willing to at least talk about chipping in some funds through urban renewal. But, all told, it’s less than half the amount needed.
So the county commission is likely to propose raising the tourist hotel-motel-vacation rental home tax by 1% by putting it on the May ballot. The tax hike would apply only to those hotel-motel-vacation home rental properties lying outside any city limits. With passage of the room tax (again outside all city limits) it would put the fairgrounds/expo facility within reach. But even if the room tax hike is approved by the voters it would be four to five years before construction would start.
In the interest of meeting a ballot deadline, the commissioners are expected to formally place the room tax increase on the May ballot during their meeting Wednesday, 9:30am, at the courthouse.