Progress on Whaler Inn sale to Hallmark, Agate Beach wastewater upgrades and VRD hand-off to new City Council
Newport’s Hallmark Resort got an extension Monday evening in their plans to expand the Whaler Motel just up the street. It’ll be a two phased project with the final expansion being completed by July of 2023.
Agate Beach Wastewater Project moving ahead
The Newport City Council, under pressure from the state Department of Environmental Quality, agreed to hire a contractor to fix the long running problem of untreated sewer water overflowing into the Agate Beach area. The council approved a contract to begin construction which is expected to take a couple of years to install the lift stations and get sewer flows headed toward the city’s sewer treatment plant rather than overflows pouring onto Agate Beach. The $9.1 million dollar initial estimate for the project is expected to rise a bit over the two years due to rising costs in construction fanned by the heat of a growing economy. So while the project moves ahead the city will have to figure out how to raise more money to cover what could be a significant increase in project costs. Grants and loans coupled with possible sewer rate increases are apparently on the table.
Awkward time to be passing the VRD baton to a new City Council
The vacation rental issue has long been debated and evaluated throughout Newport. And just as a Newport citizens study committee nears the end of their role developing recommended VRD rules and regulations, they’ll be turning their work over to a new city council after the first of the year. Members of the current City Council are a bit nervous because when the study committee submits their findings to the city planning commission on what smart VRD projects might look like – especially how many and where – a number of City Council members will be within 2 weeks of leaving office.
Councilor David Allen urged the council to work closely with the study committee and planning commission to find an acceptable alignment of the VRD plan as it’s been evolving over the past year or so.
Allen and others are hoping that the new council doesn’t just look at the plan and make changes that don’t reflect the citizens committee, planning commission or the outgoing council’s view of how VRDs ought to be managed so as to reduce the negative effects on established neighborhoods.
Allen urged the council to make sure the baton is effectively passed from the committee and planning commission to the outgoing council. When that’s done, it’s totally in the hands of the new council. This looks to be a bit of a year-end cliff hanger. We’ll see how adventurous or accommodating the new council reacts to the plan.
Newport swears in newest police officer, Carlos Gamboa
Newport swore in its latest new police officer, Carlos Gamboa Monday evening. Police Chief Jason Malloy introduced Officer Gamboa to the City Council and to the audience.
Chief Malloy praised his newest recruit calling him a great new addition to the Newport Police Department. Chief Malloy said although Gamboa spent much of his childhood in the valley, he also attended school in Toledo and graduated from Taft High. Chief Malloy said Gamboa spent six years in the military with one overseas assignment.
After being sworn in by City Clerk-Recorder Peggy Hawker, Chief Malloy told Officer Gamboa “Welcome Aboard,” adding that Officer Gamboa will prove to be a very strong and competent addition to the Newport Police Department.
And finally…Newport Area Residents: DON’T FEED WILDLIFE! Especially the four legged variety. After learning that wildlife – some of it quite large – has been lured into Newport neighborhoods populated with animal lovers, the combination of the two is dangerous to both people and to the animals.
The council learned that a number of Newport residents have been feeding everything from ground squirrels to bears, cougars to racoons. The council was told that well-meaning people, although compassionate toward animals, are feeding them food that isn’t natural to them. It can make them sick – even die.
The council also learned that a Newport resident living next door to a “wildlife feeder” was attracting so many animals that one of the animals injured her dog. The filed her complaint with City Hall.
Last evening the City Council passed a new city law that forbids spreading food out on the ground. Number 1, it creates a potentially dangerous situation for youngsters and their pets playing in their yards and Number 2, people food is not animal food and it can harm wildlife.
The new law passed unanimously. The new ordinance doesn’t affect bird feeders that sometimes do double time for squirrels.