Eliminating the power lines in front of D-River Wayside, an effort to ban plastic shopping bags, and law enforcement up close and personal.
Lincoln City City Councilors “went for the gold” Monday night by deciding to remove power pole and cable blight cluttering up the first view of the ocean when coming into town from the north there at the D-River Wayside. The council was told by City Urban Renewal Director Alison Robertson that the long sought-after beautification of the wayside area is finally possible and despite other possible projects for urban renewable funding, the council said “do it” with only Mayor Don Williams voting no.
Robertson said that the $2.2 Million project would remove poles and then underground the wires on both sides of 101 through the D-River viewshed. Since they’re doing both sides of 101, some additional design work will have to be done. But soonafter, construction should begin. No specific timelines was given during the meeting.
Another urban renewal project was approved – what’s called an “Economic Development Toolbox, specifically aimed at helping local businesses and reducing visual blight through the commercial corridor through town.
Other projects were removed from the urban renewal list and will be brought back up for consideration at a later date. City Councilor Diana Hinton emphasized that those other projects were not being sacrificed, but rather will be assigned to a spot in the city’s capital projects list. Those other projects include sewer line and storm water improvements, a teen and youth recreation center, a central services facility for the homeless, a partnership between the city and local developers to build workforce housing, child care facility, upgraded internet services to encourage more home-based businesses, and more parks. Councilor Hinton strongly emphasized that none of these other listed projects are going away and must be dealt with.
The vote to approve the projects list was five to one – Mayor Williams voting no. Mayor Williams is a strong free market booster and frowns on certain government supported programs or projects.
Earlier in the evening a group of Taft Elementary 5th graders, backed by their teachers, approached the council, asking them to outlaw the use of plastic shopping bags in Lincoln City. The children, through a slide show, made a passionate plea for the council to ban the bags. The children said that plastic bags kill fish, birds and other sea-going animals. They said the process to create plastic bags causes more pollution than making paper bags. They told the council that plastic bags take twenty years to decay in the ocean and 1,000 years in a landfill. They also observed that plastic bags on Lincoln City beaches send the wrong message to tourists when they visit the town. The kids then called on the council to ban the sale of plastic bags in Lincoln City in favor of the use of paper bags or reusable cloth bags.
The council praised the kids for their presentation and for their concerns about pollution and protecting wildlife.
But after the kids and their teachers left, the council voted 4 to 2 not to ban plastic bags. Mayor Williams cited a National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration report that indicated there are no giant swirling islands of plastic out on the open sea. But the mayor did read aloud that there are concentrations of tall columns of plastic particles and other materials swirling in the ocean, but nothing like what was presented by the children – the mayor making a note that he was dubious of the childrens’ resource materials.
Councilor Kip Ward replied that the kids did a good job on the topic and the fact that there are, at sea, large areas of concentrated plastic debris broken down to micro-levels, it therefore constitutes a genuine problem. Councilor Dick Anderson said he’s concerned about the jobs that would be lost if plastic bags were outlawed. City Councilor Judy Casper said (very tongue in check) that if she was caught with a plastic shopping bag while returning from a shopping trip would she be arrested and put in jail? “Would anyone bail me out?,” she asked. Councilor Susan Wahlke chimed in recalling that when she was in high school there was a movement among some students to ban plastic straws. Councilor Anderson added that just because Portland banned plastic bags doesn’t mean that Lincoln City should follow their lead. “In fact,” said Anderson, “nobody should follow Portland’s lead,” adding that it was a classic case of government over-reach. But Anderson did toss out to the council whether city staff ought to look into the matter for later consideration.
So when the vote came on whether city staff should look in to the matter further, it was four to two against – Anderson, Casper, Wahlke and Mayor Williams voting no. Councilors Hinton and Ward voting yes.
But there was universal agreement about the value of the Lincoln City Police Department’s Citizens Law Enforcement Academy – a recently launched three month long series of mini-training exercises that police officers offer to city residents who want to see what’s really going on with law enforcement.
Chief Keith Killian and several officers showed a video of the various kinds of exercises attendees go through from procedures in pulling somebody over, confrontations with less than cooperative suspects, personal defense tactics using tazers and, if necessary, firearms. Attendees also get an in-depth view of how criminal cases are reported, investigated and referred to the district attorney’s office. Several citizen “graduates” of the Citizens Law Enforcement Academy were clearly impressed by what they experienced and what they’ll never forget about law enforcement and the heightened level of respect and admiration for all our men and women officers on the beat.
Chief Killian said another citizens police academy is coming and he invites any adult resident of Lincoln City who would like to get the straight scoop on law enforcement to call Lincoln City Police at 541-994-3636 for more information.