The Newport City Council Monday evening proposed the renaming of the Newport Performing Arts Center’s Black Box Theater “The David Ogden Stiers Theater.” Stiers was a long time resident of Newport following a long and distinguished media career in a litany of televisions series, theater and movie performances, voice acting as well as a resident conductor for the Newport Symphony Orchestra. Mr. Stiers died March 3rd of this year of cancer.
Council directed the renaming process to the city planning commission which is expected to approve the action and then resubmit it back to the city council for final adoption.
The council also recommended a rehearsal room at the PAC be named for cultural arts and Performing Arts Center booster Ramona Martin. Her name also will be forwarded to the city planning commission for consideration and then forward their expected approval back to the city council next month for their expected approval.
Targeting Invasive Species
The city council decided to team up with the county and the cities of Waldport and Yachats to not use herbicides along the shoulders of Highway 101 to push back on invasive plant species. The donations will fund physical removal of invasive plants which will mean no toxic herbicide chemicals will threaten other plants and animals in the area. The City Council also decided that Newport will became a “Bee City USA” town, which means it will maintain roadsides with methods that don’t kill bees which are a giant pollinating force for a wide variety of plants throughout the Newport area.
Newport’s Legislative Priorities
The City Council sent their preferred legislative goals for the upcoming state legislative session that kicks off in January. Number one on the city’s list is Infrastructure and Finance Resiliency – money’s tight and the council wants help from Salem for sewer, water, streets and other necessities. Number two is expanding the ways Oregon cities can spend tourism room taxes for street maintenance because tourists add to the wear and tear on city streets and other public facilities. Number three is more financial support to offer mental health services to the coast’s growing number of homeless residents. And number four is more state aid to provide workforce and affordable housing. The housing crisis continues and it’s been putting pressure not only on lower income families but also on local businesses who can’t find enough workers because people can’t find available housing they can afford.
Newport Police get a pay raise
Following a tentative agreement between Newport Police and city administration, the City Council approved a work contract that gives a 2% per year pay raise for the next three years along with more liberal sick leave and enhanced work boot allowances.
Keeping City Hall not too cold and not too hot
The City Council also approved a contract to finally replace City Hall’s outdated and highly inefficient heating and cooling system. They awarded a $535,000 contract to Robert Lloyd Sheet Metal who will get to work right away replacing the whole system with attention to better distribution of heat throughout the building. When it’s all installed this fall, each area will be able to better control air temperatures in specific areas. No more chilling the Administrative Offices while baking the Police Department downstairs. And, the council was told, that the new system will be far cheaper to operate.
Smart distribution of discounted System Development Charges for new housing
And finally, the long running debate dealing with the Wilder development near the college appears settled. At least for now.
The Wilder group didn’t build as many homes as they initially figured so they were left holding some building certificates they had paid for but couldn’t use. They’re called System Development Charges, or SDC’s. They’re fees that help the city build roads, sidewalks, storm drains, sewer and water systems for new housing. The council agreed Monday night to allow Wilder to sell their unused SDC’s for 50% off what they paid for them. Wilder is expected to offer the certificates to developers that want to build workforce or affordable housing. But there’s no guarantee how much of those unused certificates will actually go toward that kind of housing because different projects, both market rate and affordable, are in various stages of review. But the council made it clear they want Wilder to target workforce and affordable housing where feasible.