Newport: Sea Lion Dock taking shape….on paper. Supporters seeking $106,000 to build it – $50,000 from Newport
Supporters of rebuilding the Sea Lion Docks down on the Bayfront offered a graphic image of what it would take to rebuild not only the docks where the sea lions like to sun themselves and sleep, but also to extend the public viewing area to the west six to ten feet to get the public off what is a working dock for fishermen.
Supporters say they need $50,000 from the city’s “Tourism Facilities Fund” to put them over the top. They presented their plan to the city council Monday night showing public donations for $12,000, County Community at $8,000, Siletz Tribal Fund $8,000, Meyer Memorial Fund $10,000 and $18,000 from the Collins Foundation. All tolled, $106,000 to give the sea lions a new stage on which to perform to the delight of tourists. They said if awarded the $50,000, they would expect to be building the new facility from November through early February – in time for the tourist season in 2014.
Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) of Portland, which is applying for $150,000 from the same “Tourism Facilities Fund” said they need the money to show local community buy-in for their proposed family oriented education facility planned for South Beach. City Councilor David Allen challenged the application by wondering if the state mandated criteria that an applying entity build a facility which, by its mission, entails a substantial purpose of being tourist related is fully met by the OMSI application. OMSI officials on hand assured the council that it does meet that criteria in that they bring in families and children from all over Oregon who will have lots of free time to mill about the area, including seeing shows, eating in restaurants, taking tours, etc. They also said their South Beach facility would also be available for small conventions and meetings of all kinds which would benefit the restaurants and hotels in town.
The perennial call for building a large, regional Aquatic Park at South Beach was also raised but a couple members of the task force that reviewed the applications for tourism facility funds said the committee was solidly against giving the park supporters funds. “Not ready to move forward,” ‘lacking fundraising capabilities,” no firm plans or actual design,” no solid cost estimates of what the project will cost,” were some of findings made by the committee, which also recommended that no funding be provided to the group. And the city council agreed, telling the Aquatic Park’s chief spokesman and former city councilor Jeff Bertuleit that they would not consider any funding at this time. Bertuleit protested saying OMSI’s project is equally in the initial phases on the road to becoming real – hinting at some arbitrary bias against the Aquatic Park. However the council was told that OMSI has a proven record of building facilities statewide to extend their reach into areas that offer exciting education opportunities for science and industry exploration by young and old.
In the end the council decided to fire off some last minute questions at OMSI and the the Sea Lion Dock booster group as to why they should receive city support for their projects and how their projects would satisfy the state statutory requirement that a “substantial purpose” behind their projects would be to promote tourism. The matter comes back to the council March 18.