WEATHER IN LINCOLN COUNTY

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Newport’s full blown housing crisis

Letter to the Editor:

A HOUSING CRISIS IN REAL TIME

Recently, I had an availability in an apartment here in Newport. Upon posting my ad on Craig’s List, I was inundated with phone calls, emails, and text messages. Within days, I approved my new tenant. I didn’t delete the ad and as a result I continued to get contacted about the apartment… for days and days after. Unfortunately, I didn’t keep a closer accounting of how many contacts I received, but my best estimate is the total ran between 40 and 50.

Why am I sharing this story? Because what this shows is exactly how critical our housing crisis is in Newport and Lincoln County. With the VRDs wiping out most long time rental opportunities there are simply not nearly enough apartments and housing available to accommodate our pressing needs. We, as a community, MUST and CAN do something about this horrible situation. And the first thing we can do is to stop the County from moving forward with the proposed redevelopment of the Fairground property.

This almost 10-acre site in the heart of downtown Newport is the most important property in Lincoln County. Centrally located, within walking distance of schools, shops, and work, it would make the perfect place to put hundreds of apartments available for our own citizens who desperately need a place to call home. There have been conversations for years about this housing crisis while the situation only gets worse, and almost nothing is being done by our local governments to alleviate the problem.

And now, with the adoption of the Fairgrounds Master Plan, the County insists on spending well over $12 million on a facility that will never pay for itself, on a site that could be used for much more pressing needs.

We must ask ourselves, does this make sense? Why should we throw away $600,000 a year to subsidize this project that fails on all levels?

Yes, we support 4-H. And we suggest moving it to a more suitable location within the county and building their campus. Toledo has already expressed an interest in having discussions with the County about hosting the Fair there. And, as far as building a Convention Center on the old Fairgrounds property, please show me the research that documents the demand and the interest from groups that are supposed to use this building.

Furthermore, we already have a superb space that can accommodate most of the events planned for this unnecessary new building. The Pacific Maritime Heritage Center has 21,000 sq ft, and can serve as a beautiful venue for almost all occasions. Why should we waste our precious tax dollars to build a building that we don’t need?

Housing, and taking care of our local residents should — and must — be our top priority. Not a boondoggle guaranteed to throw away essential money we need for our own.

Gerry Barrett
CommonSense-LincolnCounty
Newport

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