By Kiera Morgan
The Newport City Council held a public hearing on September 19th regarding the possible purchase of property south of city hall for parking and possible future expansion of the City Hall campus. The most immediate uses of this property would be the development of public parking that would also provide open space for special events which could include activities such as the Farmers Market. As part of the public hearing there were several citizens who wrote letters of support for the city to purchase the property and use it for not only parking but creating some green space or a spot for events.
Kurt Gehlken with the Farmers Market told the council “we bring in millions of dollars worth of extra business to the city with people from outside the area that come to the Newport Farmers Market. There was a survey done this summer and the Newport Market was rated in the top 100 of Farmers Markets Nationwide.” He said they would be willing to support the city to have a parking lot for the pool and for the use of the Farmers Market. Gehlken added “though we are grateful and have been successful at the current location we would love to get back to being right on Hwy 101 again.” The one issue that would need to be worked out is a parking plan in the event that multiple events would be occurring at the same time such as events at the Rec Center or at the pool and on or around the City Hall campus for any special events.
The cost of the property is just over $1-million and would be secured by current vacant properties, which could be sold over the course of three years to pay off the debt. This was something that Councilor David Allen wanted more assurances on before giving his approval to move forward. In the long-term, this property could provide space for the expansion of city facilities, reconfiguration of streets, roadways, and parking, or portions of this property could be sold for future development. After further discussion the council approved by a vote of 6 to one to move forward with the next steps necessary for the purchase of the property.