L C and County Commissioners foresee new open space, better protected watershed, and the city’s thoughts on consolidating LC 9-1-1 with the valley.
Providing more open space for Lincoln City, improving protection of the town’s water supply and more talk about Lincoln City possibly combining their 9-1-1 dispatch services with the rest of the county was high on the list for discussion for Lincoln County Commissioners and Lincoln City City Councilors.
Lincoln City Mayor Dick Anderson and Commissioner Bill Hall talked about what to do with 2+ acres of county-owned land off 101 between 29th and 32nd Streets. Both agreed that it will remain pretty much as is, in it’s natural state, with possibly hiking trail(s) and picnic tables or benches. Since there is a conservation easement on the property, by law it cannot be developed with other than minor improvements to enhance the public’s enjoyment of it as open space or park land. Since the land cannot be developed, the county commission’s position on transferring the land to city ownership would be at no charge to the city. Lincoln City Planning and Community Development Director Richard Townsend told News Lincoln County that once the city acquires legal title to the property, the city parks and planning commissions may review conservation and low impact recreation plans for the property.
However, another piece of property the county is contemplating handing over to Lincoln City will come at a cost to the city. It is timberland up the Drift Creek Watershed that the county foreclosed on due to non-payment of property taxes. Lincoln City would like to gain control of the property because if the timber on the property was ever heavily logged, it might cause water quality issues for the city’s water treatment plant. Commissioner Bill Hall said the county must, by law, get fair market value for the land, which would put it at around $600,000 (land plus timber). Hall said the county would keep only 20% of the money while the rest would be distributed to other taxing districts in the county, which includes schools and fire districts. Still, $600,000 is a hefty amount for a town with less than 8,000 year-round inhabitants, so Hall and Lincoln County Counsel Wayne Belmont offered to tailor a government-to-government installment plan that could help soften the blow to Lincoln City; 20% down and payments agreed to by both the county and the city. The city council seemed interested in such an arrangement.
Talk between the two entities also touched briefly on the future of 9-1-1 dispatching for Lincoln City. Lincoln City itself dispatches for Lincoln City Police and for North Lincoln Fire and Rescue. Mayor Dick Anderson reminded his councilors that they and himself have been interested in exploring whether the city should join with the others in the county who decided to contract with Willamette Valley Communications, a department of the city of Salem. WVC was already serving 17 police, sheriff and fire agencies in the Salem area and with the recent addition of most of Lincoln County, WVC now serves 26 agencies.
Mayor Dick Anderson said a major obstacle for joining the others has been removed; Century Link has laid another lightning speed fiber optic line between Lincoln City and Newport which gives Lincoln City another route to the valley which is part of its 9-1-1 system. Calls to 9-1-1 start in Lincoln City, go to a switching system in the valley, then come back and rings the phone at Lincoln City dispatch. Having that back up access to the valley (the other line follows Highway 18 to the valley) means the council is in a better position to pursue further discussions with WVC. The city of Toledo is also monitoring the situation closely. Both Toledo and Lincoln City already contract with WVC for mobile data screens in all their police cars and fire trucks and handle the departments’ records management duties.
But at the same time, Mayor Anderson says he and his council want to watch how WVC works out for the rest of the county so they can get a clearer picture of what they may be getting themselves in to. Anderson said consolidating Lincoln City’s 9-1-1 operations with WVC could save the city $300,000 a year in expenses that could be used to shore up other vital city services.