Affordable Housing, Beach Access off Spring, Taxi Service, Grants for new Big Creek Dam, and Gathering Pavilion at the Airport
Newport Area needs a new dam
The Newport City Council is going after some big money to help pay for a new dam on Big Creek. A seismic assessment on both Big Creek Dams indicates that a Cascadia-Subduction Zone Earthquake would take down both dams – the upper dam holding back a lot more water than the lower one – would cause considerable property damage downstream, all the way to Highway 101, down through the park and onto Agate Beach and out to sea.
Not only would there be massive property destruction it would leave the Newport region without water. Almost an unthinkable situation – all the more important to have drinking water stored at strategic locations around the region. And lots of it.
But city Public Works Director Tim Gross says the city’s grant-hunting firm “Dig Deep Research” will be a big help in finding the money to build a new, upstream earthquake resistant dam near the current one. Gross says the city can raise about $20 million in bonds but that’s only about 1/3 of the cost. The rest of the funds must come from grants from the state and federal government. And that’s going to take a lot of lobbying and public outreach. Part of that outreach will be lobbying our federal congressmen and state assemblymen and senators. There will also be an extensive public outreach campaign throughout the Newport area to make sure everyone one knows what’s at stake. There’s also a public vote anticipated in connection with the project. Stay tuned for more.
Slowly Moving Forward on Affordable Housing
The city council also talked a bit about what to do with funds that are piling up from the town’s Construction Excise Tax – a fee attached to new construction within the city limits of Newport. Community Development Director Derrick Tokos reported that the excise tax fund from new construction is around $40,000 which is expected to grow to $120,000 by the end of the year. He said an advisory committee will now analyze not only the need but the eligibility of applicants who can get the most widely spread benefit out of financial assistance. From there the issue will be lifted up to the city council for final decisions on who gets the money. To be continued.
Trying to Preserve Beach Access Off Spring Street
Preserving public access to the beach off the west end of Spring Street came up. That access has been available to the public for decades. But it appears that the current property owner is less than pleased with the idea of the public traversing a piece his newly acquired property and home construction site. City Manager Spencer Nebel said it will take some gathering together of the public as well as some one-on-one with the property owner to see if a compromise might be possible. Stay tuned.
Taxi, Taxi, Who’s Got a Taxi??
The question of whether Newport needs a second taxi service was back before the council. Long-time Newport-based taxi service Yaquina Cab doesn’t like the fact that a new cab company has showed up wanting to do business in Newport. Yaquina Cab runs 24/7 service and wants the competing company to do 24/7 as well, so they don’t just cherry-pick cab customers and hurt Yaquina Cab’s profits. The council decided to let the two companies compete this summer and then evaluate the situation at Summer’s end. With good financial data in the fall, the council will be able to make a better determination whether the town can support more than one cab company.
A New Pilot Pavilion Struggles to be Born at the Newport Airport
The city council was presented with a plan to build what’s been referred to as a Pilot’s Pavilion at the Newport Airport – where they can grill burgers and ribs on Saturdays and create a quality rest stop for in-transit pilots as well as a gathering place for local and regional pilots. The discussion quickly got side-tracked on the design costs that pushed the cost up to $45,000 – approaching $250/square foot. The council collectively re-coiled at that figure. But Public Works Director Tim Gross said design costs have some fixed costs that prevail regardless of the size of the project. So that’s a major component of the bottom line. The council decided to have the airport and those involved with the design and construction of the pavilion to get all the information together and lay it out in front of the city council at a later meeting. Decision day may be the first council meeting in May.
New Approach to Street Lights in Newport
And finally, the council seemed amenable to taking a comprehensive look at city street lights. Some residents complain that they’re too dim in some neighborhoods but with the introduction of LED technology, suddenly neighborhoods have street lights that are way too bright. The council asked City Manager Spencer Nebel to work with Central Lincoln PUD to see where adjustments might be made.