The second floor smoke alarm has gone off again. Fourth time in past 24 hours.
Fire units headed for the Visual Arts Center for the second time today for a similar call – smoke detector on the second floor is going off. Firefighters not quite yet on scene.
Firefighters say one occupant thought she smelled smoke. No one evacuated the building. Firefighters tracked the problem down to a malfunctioning second floor smoke alarm – the same alarm that erroneously called out firefighters this morning as well as last evening. Assistant Fire Chief Rob Murphy said the alarm company will likely be asked to come out and inspect the system. He said the system is old.
The city is already facing the expensive prospect of replacing the building’s elevator. The VAC has become a sore spot with the city in that it’s costing the city way more in expenses than it generates in income, especially at a time that the city’s general fund is stressed and there is a huge need to begin replacing the city’s sewer and water collection and distribution systems. That process of replacing the system is estimated to cost some three million dollars a year for the forseeable future. Past generations of residents were not asked to create a sinking fund to take care of such things and now it’s coming due all at once.
The city is pursuing grants and loans at a time that many other American cities are also scrounging for money to replace their own systems. There is lots of competition out there. Newport is also moving forward on possibly establishing a new urban renewal district along Highway 101 from the downtown north, and east on Highway 20, in an effort to raise property values and therewith tax revenues that can be applied toward utility reconstruction.