Trying to keep Newport’s San Bay O safely walkable, financing the Salvation Army parking lot purchase, rebidding the fire station re-do, waiting for the debris removal at the old City Center Motel and wincing at more reports of bad water at Nye Beach
Several San Bay O Circle residents Monday night asked the city council to put up 15 mph speed limit signs as well as a dog poop disposal station at the east end of their neighborhood. They complained that some visitors to their loop community don’t know that their street doesn’t go anywhere. It’s just a loop. And some of them get lost and a number of them speed which is a threat to families with children who love to walk the neighborhood. There’s also a path to Wade Park just to the south.
The city council asked Public Works Director Tim Gross and City Manager Spencer Nebel to launch an investigation into how to slow down traffic, which is mainly limited to the summer months and to provide a dog poop baggie depository somewhere in the neighborhood. Nebel and the council balked at the poop depository stating it would be very costly because once any neighborhood convinces the city to provide such a service, all neighborhoods will want it. Gross said the city does offer those services at trailheads and city parks but beyond that it would be an unfair burden on the taxpayers. They suggested the community around San Bay O pass the hat and provide one.
Back to the speeders. Gross and Newport Police Chief Jason Malloy both agreed that most people who are standing by the side of the road consistently over-estimate the speed of passing motorists. Chief Malloy said San Bay O is not a speedway but did suggest that the city set up a speed radar read-out to take speed readings, especially at the eastern extremes of both legs of the loop. Gross said he’d bet that drivers are driving well within the 15 mph limit through there. He went so far as to say that if the city put up 15 mph hour signs, the effect would be likely for drivers to speed up because most of them are doing less than 15 mph and most people like to drive the speed limit.
The council agreed to have the speed study done – neighbors asking if it can be done during the summer in order to get good information. The council said “sure, we can do that.”
The council took another step Monday night to make good on their decision earlier to buy the parking lot and building site that used to hold Newport’s old Salvation Army building just across Angle from City Hall. The council voted to finance the $1.1 million purchase by putting up the full faith and credit of the city as a whole to back the loan. The city will have three years to sell some surplus city property to the private sector to raise the money to pay off the loan. The facility will provide much needed parking for city workers and those using the soon-to-open new Newport Aquatic Center just to the east of City Hall.
The council Monday night punted on a project to make the city’s main fire station as close to earthquake proof as possible. A couple of contractors bid on the project but they both came in well above budget. It was mentioned that as the country, including Newport, recovers from the Crash of 2008, contractors are getting busier and busier so their prices are rising higher and higher.
In short, it was decided that the bids came in too pricey so the council declined all the bids and told the city manager to get a re-evaluated engineering estimate as to what it should cost if they leave out some aspects, or try to accomplish the same earthquake surviving improvements for less money. The council did just that so now the search is on to bring down the cost of saving the fire hall…one of the most critically important buildings in Newport before and after a Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake.
The council learned Monday evening that a lot of townspeople are getting really tired of having to look at the pile of burned debris that was once the City Center Motel. The business burned almost completely August 5th earlier this Summer. No official cause has been announced yet. But local and state fire investigators are still trying to get to the bottom of what happened. Therefore the place hasn’t been torn down yet.
But the council learned that the end is near – that the investigation is winding down. The reason for the painfully meticulous poring over the fire wreckage is the fact that four people died in the fire and so investigators want to ensure all the evidence has been very carefully gone through. However it was said by City Manager Spencer Nebel that “it should be soon.”
And finally, Public Works Director Tim Gross reported to the council that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel for at least some historical sources of sewage contamination at Nye Beach. Recent readings were horribly high at Nye Beach and points south according Surfrider.
Gross said Nye Beach area sewer lines and storm drains leak and frequently blend and end up in Big Creek at Agate Beach and at the Nye Creek Outfall at Nye Beach. Repairs are proceedings well at Bear Creek according to Gross. But Nye Beach literally had the crap kicked out of it during the recent storms when the town was getting rain at a torrential rate. The leaky city sewer and storm drain system just couldn’t take it. And Surfrider measuring teams recorded the stratospheric levels contamination.
Gross says they’re putting in a new pump station array on Bear Creek which should take care of what has become a chronic problem at the north end of Newport. He also noted that his crews are in the process of “sleeving” both sewer and water lines in the Nye Beach area which should dramatically reduce such incidents of “cross-over” contamination from old and broken pipes underground. The city has long range plans to overhaul its underground water, wastewater and storm sewer systems. But it will take time due to the breadth of the problem and the enormity of the cost.