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To The Editor:
As a representative of CommonSense-Lincoln County, I continue to ask questions and voice concerns that the proposed expenditures using transient room taxes, possible urban renewal money, and very likely other monies to redevelop the old Fairground site makes the best sense.
Meetings, plans, and the hiring of various consultants regarding a County Fair, the Fairgrounds property, and construction of a possible convention center/exhibit hall/multi-purpose building have been underway for years. That the process has been lengthy is proper since we’re talking about two exceedingly important things here: 1) best interests of Lincoln County citizens, and 2) a whole heap of money (in that order).
Someone smarter than me once said, “Sometimes, you have to look back in order to understand the things that lie ahead.”
In 1996, on behalf of the people of Lincoln County, the chair of the Board of Commissioners, the Chair of The Lincoln County Fair board, the superintendent of the Lincoln County School District, and the Mayor of Newport reached the unanimous agreement that — and I quote — “The fairgrounds should be moved to a different location.” They went on to note in that same Intergovernmental Agreement that — and again I quote — “such a change will require community support. That support includes not only the parties to this Agreement, but other interest groups, communities, governmental entities, and the public.”
I have to think that those public servants, representing the City, County, Schools, and Fair, had good reasons for deciding to relocate the Lincoln County Fair and observing the need for the broadest possible public support.
At present, no evidence exists that there is broad public support for the County’s current Master Plan for redevelopment of the Fairgrounds property. Public Comment at Master Plan Vision Committee meetings, and at the Depoe Bay meeting with the County Commissioners, has been overwhelming opposed to ANY SIZE convention center/exhibit hall/multi-purpose building. For instance, of the 22 people who spoke during Public Comment at the June Master Plan Vision Committee meeting, only two supported The Commons development plan. A few youngsters and moms spoke to keep 4-H and horse facilities. Everyone else spoke against the Plan. The people of Lincoln County have never been asked to formally weigh in on their preference for what they would like to see developed on the Fairgrounds property.
However, by referring this matter to the voters in November, we can objectively and fairly come to unequivocal agreement with regards to what the majority of citizens of Lincoln County estimate is the wisest and best use of this property.
On behalf of the many, and in the true spirit of a commons for all citizens of Lincoln County, I, representing CommonSense-LincolnCounty, attended the Board of Commissioner’s meeting on Wednesday, June 27, and asked that the Commissioners refer the matter to the voters by placing it on the November 2018 ballot.
I asked for this “referral” in order to prove the broad public support they claim, and which our earlier community leaders determined was so critical. To do so would save the people of Lincoln County the expense and time to collect signatures to draft an initiative. We believe it is imperative that the people of Lincoln County vote on this issue before the County commits us to funding this Master Plan.
I requested that the Commissioners respond within one week from today, June 27, 2018. A Yes decision means they will REFER the issue to appear on the November 2018 ballot. A No decision means they decline to do so. A No decision will also signal that we, the people, will move forward with an INITIATIVE to ensure that the people of Lincoln County WILL have a chance to vote on this issue.
Penelope Kaczmarek for CommonSense-LincolnCounty