Newport: City Council crowd says “Don’t sell the VAC.” City Council tells crowd, “We’re not!” for the umpteenth time.
A packed Newport City Council meeting got another earful Monday night about how important the city-owned Visual Arts Center is for the town’s quality of life. And a number of VAC supporters testified that more than anything, the arts reveal the true auality of a community beyond most everything else.
However, the council reminded many from the arts community that the city can no longer shoulder the expense of maintaining the building and paying for expensive repairs and equipment replacement. Arts community members like Oregon Coast Cultural Arts said in so many words that they got the message and would like to begin raising money for the facility – thereby reducing the burden on city taxpayers.
OCCA Director Katherine Rickbone and former mayor Mark McConnell asked for enough time to get a plan together that’s acceptable to the council. The council gave the group until March of next year to present the plan – involving strategies to contact those in the community who are well-to-do and great lovers of art. Also to bring all the various arts organizations in the Newport area together to develop funds to take the pressure off the city.
Councilor Ralph Busby raised the issue of perhaps relocating VAC operations to somewhere else – and not atop very pricey real estate overlooking the ocean. Others said it’s important to the arts community that the VAC stay put – that its mere location is an inspiration for artistic ideas.
So, again, the council agreed to give the group until March to come up with a plan for taking the VAC fully or partially off the hands of the public – either through a public-private partnership or a non-profit acquiring it.
After that the council approved a land analysis and lot-line conformance for the entire VAC site in the interest of cleaning up old assessors’ schematics that makes up that portion of the Nye Beach Turnaround. Although many in the audience opposed the “housekeeping” proposal as a precursor to selling it, the council assured them repeatedly that there are no immediate plans to dispose of the property. It was said that sale or not, any further maintenance or alterations to the VAC must still have the lot lines re-examined to protect everyone’s investment in the property.
So…come March we should know a lot more.