A small but very opinionated group of South Beach residents got in their two cents to a dime’s worth with planners Wednesday evening. They were suggesting neighborhood and commercial improvements so the Coho Brant neighborhood can preserve its warm neighborliness while being open to new trails, pathways, more paved and extended streets and a brand new OMSI educational youth camp in their collective back yard. But that last part makes a few Coho Brant neighbors nervous.
A representative from OMSI said their new facility, which will open sometime in 2016, will use Highway 101 and southerly extension of Abalone Street to get into and out of the youth camp. He said they won’t be going north through the Coho Brant neighborhood and bothering the neighbors.
Attention was also focused on Safe Haven Hill at the southwest end of the bridge. Planners said there will be more pathways leading uphill and more switchbacks and stairs will be built to make climbing the hill a little easier in the event of a tsunami.
A lot of attention focused on eliminating the signal light at SE 32nd and installing a new one at SE 35th. The intersection will be widened in order to handle more traffic. SE 35th on both sides of 101 could become a very pleasant street scape full of stores, restaurants and other tourist attractions that would compliment the nearby Oregon Coast Aquarium, the Hatfield Marine Science Center, NOAA and…a new regional indoor aquatic center and the Erickson Air Museum. You never know.
Most comments from residents seem to focus on keeping the area uniquely livable, small scale yet easily accessible to the progress growing up around it. They also want pedestrian and bike paths to more conveniently link local attractions and access to open space, the ocean, the bay and the estuary trails.
The consultant said they will be back April 25th with a more refined plan including street, water, sewer, storm water and other upgrades and that local businesses, Hatfield Marine Science Center, NOAA, Rogue Brewery and others, including residents for another workshop on any further refinements folks want to see. There will be another set of meetings May 16th, then another workshop on May 30th for further refinements and then a finished plan of what is called “preferred designs” for how the community wants to see the Coho Brant neighborhood and immediate surroundings come in to their own. Following that, the Newport City Council will review and more than likely pass the plan and begin debatomg where the money will come from to get all the work done. Most of it will come from the last of the South Beach Urban Renewal fund and perhaps a few other sources. However Newport Community Development Director Derrick Tokos cautioned everyone not to expect any overnight miracles at South Beach. He said most improvements will be very expensive. “But the advantage,” he said, “is that we’ll have a viable plan that can be presented to the city council, to private investors, various government granting agencies and others so that one day, and not too far down the road, most of the upgrades and improvements will be built for all to enjoy and appreciate.
By the way, details on the plan can be found on Newport’s city website. Just click here.