As News Lincoln County told you last month, the Port of Newport has been approached by the Yaquina Bay Fruit Company to allow it to move from port owned property near NOAA to a piece of land to the south and west, which would also be on port property but more on the water. Yaquina Bay Fruit says they want to create up to 20 new jobs and expand their operations to have public tours, watch simple cherries become “Marishino” cherries and enjoy some retail shopping at the facility.
Newport resident Janet Webster objected to the idea pointing out that Yaquina Bay Fruit does not need waterfront property to process cherries, offer retail shopping and tours; all that, she claimed, could be more appropriately created elsewhere. Webster said that waterfront land should be reserved for operations and facilities that need waterfront property and access to the bay, like more science research facilities that will emerge from a growing Hatfield Marine Science Center. She told the council, “Instead of good planning, I see here a move to simply accommodate what’s already there; a cherry processing operation that should be located elsewhere, and could survive fine elsewhere.” City Councilor Jeff Bertuleit chimed in saying that if Yaquina Bay Fruit were to locate on privately owned land it would better benefit the city tax-wize than remaining on publicly owned land at the South Beach Marina.
Mayor Mark McConnell and other councilors pointed out that Rogue Brewery was allowed to establish a beach head on the south side of the bay even though they were not water dependent either. But today they’re there and they’re a big tourist draw. And they’re expanding. Saying that creating new jobs in the middle of the worst recession in over 80 years is important, the council approved the idea of Yaquina Bay Fruit moving to the new location next to the South Beach Marina. Port Manager Don Mann said the city’s endorsement will give the company a clear way forward if they chose to move their operations into an expanded facility to the southwest. He said it will also free up land for water dependent operations in the future, after Mount NOAA is taken down to ground level.
So we’ll see how this shakes out in the months ahead.