Making Oceanview Drive a little more civilized, moving ahead with PAC improvements and Newport Fire Department’s role in the battle of the Echo Mountain Fire
The Newport City Council Monday night tackled the verrrry looooong running issue of what the town wants Oceanview Drive to be like. Right now it’s a narrow road with people who like to speed a bit, which makes bicyclists and pedestrians uneasy – because, after all, it was part of the old coast highway.
After much discussion and idea tossing, the council decided to take things slowly by favoring the installation of speed bumps near the Agate Beach pedestrian crossing and also conducting a speed study on that stretch of Oceanview Drive.
And the council declared its intention to buy rights to use a pond on private property to help accommodate future local development of the South Beach 40th Street area. It’s a response to plans being pursued by local businesses, expansion of OSU facilities and Wilder housing expansion, all needing increased storm water capacity for the pond be able to handle it. The acquisition will be negotiated under the laws of eminent domain which are used commonly around the country. The city will have to pay the land owner(s) to access the pond as well as expand it.
In other council action the council agreed to fund the final part of the Newport Performing Arts Center building rehabilitation and expansion. The council authorized city administration to retain an architect and a final set of plans for the PAC. No time-line was revealed as to when all the improvements will be in place or when the doors will actually open. More planning is involved.
And finally, the council heard a stunning recounting of Newport Fire Department’s role in helping to stop the Echo Mountain blaze that burned down hundreds of homes in the Salmon River watershed. Some of those destroyed homes belonged to local firefighters but yet they stayed in the field saving other people’s property from the onslaught of the flames. Chief Rob Murphy said his department was strained to the limit in helping regional county and Lincoln City Fire departments fight the 25-hundred acre blaze which was caused by lightning. Kudos were also given to Newport and other government workers for setting up a large fire refugee space inside the Newport Recreation Center that made the lives of fire refugees a little easier.
The “all clear” has been announced so that those who still have homes can return to them while others who lost their homes sift through what remains of their possessions. Hopefully insurance wil provide the newly-made homeless a pathway back to normalcy. Yet precious family heirlooms are likely gone – but not forgotten.
Chief Murphy strongly hinted that a new way of thinking about wildfires must be considered. He cited Climate Change as the primary cause. He said that the drier parts of the North American continent are working their way north and so fire departments as far north as the Columbia River, if not beyond, must plan and execute fire tactics on the ground and in the air to quickly jump on what sometimes appears to be giant fire bombs going off in our forests. Chief Murphy strongly suggested that fire fighting is changing…and changing fast.