When the 2021 Legislative Session concluded late Saturday, Lincoln County quietly emerged as one of the big winners. Coastal Representative David Gomberg shared the news in his weekly newsletter. “Using my legislative seniority, my knowledge of needs across the district, and my strategic role as vice-chair of Ways and Means, I worked to fund our water and sewer systems, ports, and community centers.”
The final bills of the session allocated funds from lottery bonds and Oregon’s $2.6 billion share of the latest round of stimulus money from Washington D.C. Projects in North Lincoln County were:
Restoration of Pilings and Docks, City of Depoe Bay: $2.9 million. The docks at the World’s Smallest Harbor are failing and the city has no tax base to replace them. Without support, the facilities may close, costing jobs in the fishing and tourism fleets and a serious setback for coastal prestige. This project includes replacement of piles and floats in the harbor, including materials, mobilization, equipment, labor, permitting assistance and required insurance.
D River Welcome Center, Lincoln City: $2.547 million. D River Park is the most popular beach wayside in the state. It is also the first place that the 20 million people who drive through Lincoln City annually get a look at the ocean. Over one million visitors to pull in each year to watch the surf or enjoy the beach. Lincoln City is finalizing the transfer of the Wayside from the State to the City. The plan is to transform the Park with a state-of-the-art welcome center, upgraded restrooms, landscaping and improved beach access. With the planned upgrades, D-River Wayside will become the most valuable tourism asset in Lincoln City.
Lincoln City Cultural Center: $1.8 million. The nonprofit Lincoln City Cultural Center has spent 13 years and $1.5 million to turn the historic Delake School (circa 1929) into a well-equipped center for arts, culture and community programs, hosting 350 events with an attendance of 45,000 in 2019. From the outside, however, the center still looks like an abandoned school surrounded by broken sidewalks, old fences, poor lighting and potholes. The Lincoln City Cultural Plaza would transform these grounds with accessible pathways, gathering places, well-designed and expanded parking, public art and vendor amenities, and an artistic attraction to the 8.8 million cars that pass by on Highway 101 each year. The State approved a $1.5M appropriation in the 2019-21 Budget. However, the appropriation was rescinded when Lottery Bond sales were cancelled due to COVID.
Septic, Stormwater and Reservoir Replacement: Panther Creek Water District, Otis: $16.8 million. This project will replace and repair sewer, water, and stormwater systems destroyed or compromised during the Labor Day wildfires in Otis. The District lost approximately 100 of its 300 residential users during the Echo Mountain Fire. The District’s 50,000 gallon redwood reservoir was also damaged during the fire. The proposed project is to construct two storage tanks with a combined volume of 500,000 gallons to replace the redwood tank. The storage tanks will be located to provide pressures and fire-fighting capabilities throughout the District and will be constructed to appropriate seismic standards.
Other projects in the 10th House District included:
- Toledo: Sanitary Sewer Extension, Port of Toledo: $2.425 million.
- Toledo: Greater Toledo Pool Recreation District: $3 million.
- Waldport: Water Tank Replacement: $2.2 million.
- Eddyville: East Lincoln County Firehall: $4 million.
- Siletz: Tribal Arts & Heritage Center: $750 thousand.
- Newport: Big Creek Dams Remediation: $14 million.
- Newport: Oregon Coast Aquarium: $5.1 million.
- Sheridan: Career Technical Education Center: $1.9 million.
- Tillamook: Water Transmission Line Replacement: $12 million.
“Throughout the coast and coast range, we are suffering the aging of critical water and sewer systems, public buildings, and ports. When the Capital Construction subcommittee organized public hearings for proposals in May, I organized a dozen advocates and community leaders to testify and worked with them on strategy. Witnesses were limited to two minutes during the two-hour hearing. That means one-in-five of the presenters was from our district. Watch the hearing and you will see the presiding chair smile as person-after-person reported they were “working with Rep. Gomberg on this proposal.”
Gomberg partnered with Senator Dick Anderson on initial funding for Waldport, Depoe Bay and the Cultural Center in Lincoln City. He negotiated with the Capital Construction committee to add more dollars and complete the funding. Senator Betsy Johnson was a key partner supporting coastal projects. Gomberg also worked with Representative Suzanne Weber on the Tillamook water line which spans both their districts.
Gomberg offered some context to the spending after the session concluded. “In 2019, we thought we’d done remarkably well with four projects and a combined price tag of $10 million,” he said. “But with new lottery dollars and an influx of cash from Washington DC, we funded thirteen needs this year with an investment of more than $60 million. I doubt we’ll see this kind of infrastructure spending again in our lifetime.”