Although the Sea Lion Dock Foundation this week was awarded another $8,000 from county commissioners toward repairing the popular but disintegrating sea lion dock, it’s only a drop in the bay for what will be required to get the job done. As you can see in the top photograph, the upper walkway and viewing area is actually part of a working pier with vehicles driving up and down, loading and unloading gear from fishing and other vessels.
In light of that, Port of Newport officials recently decided that the proper way to restore the sea lion attraction is to build a separate public viewing deck overlooking the soon-to-be rebuilt floating dock below. So instead of a relatively cheap replacement of the sea lion perch, the sticker price has now gone over $100,000. However, Sea Lion Dock Foundation member Bob Ward says they’re confident they can raise the money for what is certainly a prime tourist attraction on the Bayfront. He says the foundation will seek $50,000 in Newport hotel-motel room tax funds to match what the foundation expects to raise from other sources.
Ward says the upgraded sea lion dock “complex” will require a lot more work than upgrading the sea lion docks themselves so they’ll miss this year’s “in water” working season which stretches from November to the end of January. Oregon Fish and Wildlife prohibits “in water” work which disturbs fish migration activities which runs through much of the rest of the year. Ward says they’ll apply for work permits for next winter which, by then, they should have all the funding raised and the materials ready to go in the water for both the sea lions and the tourists who love to watch them up close.