A Newport City Council Town Hall meeting on the Bayfront at the Mo’s Annex covered a lot of ground and waterfront ideas during the 72 minutes of its run.
Toledo Port Manager Bud Shoemake (picture #2) launched the first of a number of talking points by telling the packed room that as a Lincoln County Historical Society Board Member he was pleased to say that the renovated Maritime Museum on the Bayfront will probably be finished and ready for the public to enjoy sometime next Spring. He said they are expecting to do a “soft opening” between now and then. Shoemake said he was glad that the Newport City Council is expected to be given a progress report tour of the building within a few weeks. He said the museum will be a wonderful tourist draw and a great partner-in-progress for the city.
Newport Public Works Director Tim Gross (picture #3) gave an update on what will probably be a traffic headache for at least part of the Bayfront next summer – the reconstruction of storm drains at the intersection of Bay Boulevard and Moore Road and a reconstruction of that intersection. Gross said the storm sewer under the intersection will be renovated and re-aligned to make flows more manageable. The city will also be reconstructing the intersection, which also happens to be in front of the Embarcadero. Bay Boulevard from the west will come up to the intersection at a slight angle to give greater visibility to traffic by everyone about to enter the intersection. Turn movements will remain the same. Bay Boulevard traffic from the west will have a stop sign, as well as Bay Boulevard traffic from the east, except when turning up Moore. Westbound Bay Boulevard traffic turning north on Moore will not have to stop. Traffic headed downhill on Moore will continue to have a pass-through to Bay Boulevard with no stop sign at the bottom of the hill. This will give logging trucks the right of way when coming down the hill, turning east on Bay Boulevard, enroute to the International Terminal.
Gross said construction on all this will consume part of the summer, which will produce some circulation headaches for locals and tourist alike. Although there will be flaggers to keep traffic moving through there, it will, none the less, involve some delays. He said the work has to be done during the summer because that’s the only time of year that they can work on the storm sewer so that flowing water won’t be too much of a problem. He said the project should be finished by the end of the summer.
Next up was Derrick Tokos (picture #4), Newport’s Community Development Director. He said meetings are coming up soon to re-start talks about how to create more parking along the Bayfront. Tokos reminded everyone that there is up to $270,000 dollars available to help provide more parking and better management of what parking there already is along the Bayfront. Tokos was reminded by a member of the audience that any final parking arrangement must involve the commercial fishing community, adding that fishing and fish processing provides more income to Lincoln County than tourism in general.
And finally, Police Chief Mark Miranda (picture #5) reminded the crowd that last weekend’s tsunami, generated by an earthquake off Queen Charlotte’s Island, was another wake-up call to Newport area residents to have NOAA radios at the ready at their homes and at their jobs. Miranda said NOAA radios go off like an alarm clock telling listeners what’s going on and what to expect sooner and later. Miranda also reminded everyone that the number to call if you find Japanese tsunami debris along Lincoln County beaches is 2-1-1.
Comments from the public included expressions of concern over what, at times, is a lack of enough parking along the Bayfront. Community Development Director Derrick Tokos said once the Bayfront Parking District Committee is reconvened, they’ll be looking at a number of options. He again acknowledged the importance of the fishing industry being part of the discussions. Tokos said there are some options they’re kicking around, including a parking area, possibly above Ripley’s, and perhaps investigating fishing equipment racks that might be put in at Port Dock Five, thereby freeing up space for additional tourist parking. Also the Bayfront, he says, needs better signage.
Bud Shoemake, speaking as the manager of the Port of Toledo expressed his continued support desire to maintain close relations with Newport, especially the Port of Newport and Riverbend Boat Repair since the Port of Toledo’s new ship repair yard is growing fast and becoming an important family wage contributor to the regional economy.