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More civic planning among Newport City Councilors – HEAVY agenda

Newport City Hall

Newport City Councilors had such a thick City Council agenda Monday night they all were lucky to get home by 10:30pm.  It was a verrrrrrry long day.

The council got an eye-opening report on how the city’s Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee is still working quickly to finish what’s been a long time project, from Agate Beach to the Newport Bayfront.  Members of the committee want upgraded signage at Agate Beach all along what is called the Ocean to Bay Trail.  Forty-thousand dollars will enable proper guiding signage as hikers navigate the beach, woods, pathways, sidewalks and finally dropping into the Bayfront, thanks to the trail.

The council also commented on the soon to be completed 5th Street dock – aiming kudos at the Newport Port Commission and special praise for Port Manager Paula Miranda who helped guide the flow toward what will be a dramatic addition to moorage capacity on the Yaquina Bay.  They’re also talking about building a new administrative building to replace the old and crowded facility they currently work in.

The city council was given what may have been interpreted as an attractive pitch to allow a company into Newport to set up a fleet of all electric scooters to scoot around town at 5-bucks a ride.  The riders who rent the scooters go exploring and when they’re done they bring the scooter back to the “scooter barn” or anywhere in town where the riders arrive at their destination.  They climb off and with a click of a key the scooter is disabled and begins waiting for the manager of the local Bird Scooter company.  The riders can walk away – and with a push of a button the scooter is disabled and waits to be picked up or if someone in the area wants to assume command of the scooter, with electronic permission by the company’s local manager the scooter has a new master and off they ride.  They’re figuring on having 50 electric scooters on the street at any given time.

The Newport City Councilors were not overly impressed with the scooter opportunity due to the scarcity of Newport bike lanes and other disadvantages of cruising around on narrow and also up and down streets.  But the city councilors agreed to talk about it more and invited the company to elaborate on the issues and how they manage to provide highly supportive staff and the many benefits of scooters in touristy areas.  They say the scooter movement is catching on very fast coast-to-coast.  It’s a lot like a “one up” on bicyclists already plying the streets of many cities around the country.  A company spokesman said electric scooters are really catching on and the bicycle shops are seeing the benefits of people getting around without cars.  We’ll see which way the wind blows on this one…

Another major issue was the raising of hotel-motel room taxes within the Newport City limits to help the city keep up with the cost of growth – streets, sidewalks, expanding tourist attractions, police and fire protection and strengthening local schools.  After a lengthy debate the council agreed to allow the town’s hotel-motel room taxes to rise from 9.5% to an even 12%.  Room taxes have been rising fast all across America and one comment was made that it’s time to raise rented room taxes in order to keep up with the costs of being able to accommodate travelers and vacationers…keeping the touristy Newports of the world in the black.

And as a sign that at least SOME people around the world are overcoming their fear of those they’ve never met, the Newport City Council decided that if the American and Oregon flags can be hoisted over City Hall, along with flags that celebrate our military, our state, our schools and more, we can add LGBTQ citizens to the list.  So the council decided that not only LGBTQ citizens but others who feel they deserve considerable recognition should be honored as well…without mentioning that there’s only so much room alongside the front steps of Newport City Hall.

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