Depoe Bay Harbor is a powerful economic engine for Depoe Bay. But the engine is sorely in need of a tune-up. Some say even an over-haul. Docks number 3 and 4 need repairs – especially Dock 3. An unofficial estimate for Dock 3 runs between $375,000 and $470,000.
Then there is is the harbor dredging cycle. The harbor fills up with silt that comes down Depoe Bay Creek – both forks. The harbor is due for another dredging but there’s no budget available to do it – one estimate at $200,000. Usually the state or federal government steps in, but so far no money has been set aside for Depoe Bay. City Hall is looking for grants. But there are no guarantees there either.
So this week the Depoe Bay City Council broached the subject. Ideas began circulating the room. It was acknowledged that the harbor is a vital economic driver for the community, if not the town and large areas around it. The conversation produced the idea that it may be time for Depoe Bay Harbor to become a state and/or federally designated port with all the advantages that come with being a port – not just a harbor.
The council said establishing a port district like Astoria, Tillamook, Newport and others might be worth exploring. And so they decided to just that. They will summon up the Harbor Commission and harbor customers and invite broad public involvement in the discussions. They said a “port district” might follow the same district boundaries as the Depoe Bay Fire District. But of course, a district means a tax rate. But if it’s spread over a large area, the financial impact is less per taxpayer than if the district was just the town itself.
There’s a lot at stake. Harbor repairs plus dredging are very expensive – with no guarantees for grants – especially with federal and state budgets that are straining under new “tax reform” from Washington DC and PERS constraints here in Oregon. But the bottom line is, repairs need to be made and the harbor must remain navigable.
The City Council this week acknowledged that a lot of information gathering is required. And because of that, it’ll take a year or two to get it all together – discuss it – invite harbor users and tenants to weigh in, along with the public – and then come to a decision whether to put a proposed port district on the ballot.
The council also got a report from city staff on a situation at 335 Collins Street. It’s a home owned by an out-of-towner who, the city contends, illegally extended a concrete pad beyond his property line and built a “lean-to” on it. The city has been negotiating with the owner since earlier this year. City officials say the lean-to has been removed but not the concrete pad which extends far enough out to be a concern to stormwater run off down a creek that is an officially designated wetland. City officials say the violation carries a $500 a day fine. City officials say the issue is squarely in the homeowner’s court.