At the reported urging of Mayor Don Williams, there seems to be a growing contagion to see what might be possible to upgrade, or even expand a major tourist draw at the south end of Lincoln City – the Taft Dock just south of Mo’s Restaurant on SW 51st.
The Taft Dock has always been a kind of tucked-away little gem of a locals and tourist attraction where families and individuals brought their crab pots and threw them over the railing during high tides to see how many crab they could catch. Boats – both fishing and pleasure – also used to tie up at the dock as a rest stop as they sailed and motored up and down the coast, many years ago.
But over the years, the relentless waves and the logs they tossed up against the piers took their toll. The dock has been repaired several times over the years, but lately the maintenance hasn’t kept up. But that may be changing.
Lincoln City officials have approached federal and state agencies to see if the dock can be strengthened with new pilings and new cross beams to help the dock better withstand the fierce storms and marauding log jams. There’s also the opportunity to create greater access to those in wheel chairs and with strollers who find it difficult to navigate out toward the dock. And even if they get there, it can be hard to find a spot where they can see anything from wheel-chair height.
City officials say they’re putting together some preliminary plans to gauge the feasibility of making such improvements. The Army Corps of Engineers has expressed an interest in making a preliminary analysis of the situation and perhaps develop a way forward to upgrading the old dock – to add some features and generally broaden its appeal to locals and tourists alike.
All this could start, we’re told, fairly soon. But there’s the need for applying for permits and finding and directing the money to make the vision come true.
As with any project like this, one that has the power to draw large crowds, any funds expended from local, state or federal sources, could easily be recouped if the dock becomes a catalyst – a tourist facility with a “big look” that means fun for families and for locals. These kinds of dock facilities may or may not make a lot of money themselves. But they can act as an attraction magnet that draws in more visitors who then spend their money in local restaurants, stores, drinking establishments and shopping centers. And it also means higher revenues from motel, hotel, and VRD room taxes.
This idea of a facility with little or no income but being a strong economic catalyst is a major variable in many business plans across a wide array of project ideas.
So we’ll see what transpires over the next month or two as the city takes a closer look at upgrading the old Taft Dock – again becoming a great spot for crabbing and fishing. Who knows – with a little dredging from the new small harbor dredger that is working small harbors up and down the Oregon Coast, small boating options might also be in the offing.