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URBAN RENEWAL, RETAIL CENTER TOP PRIORITY LIST

GOLD BEACH A commercial retail center at the Port of Brookings Harbor, an inflow and infiltration repair project for the City of Gold Beach, and the Gold Beach downtown revitalization and urban renewal plans were among the top projects prioritized by a county committee Wednesday.

Representatives from the cities, ports and county government spent four hours grading and prioritizing 91 projects for the Needs and Issues Inventory required by the state for funding.

The projects were ranked in three categories: community facilities, infrastructure and community readiness.

Each project was graded from one to 10 in several aspects by each of the 11 members of the committee. Scores were then totaled and averaged.

Even top-ranked projects were not guaranteed any funding, however.

Port Orford Mayor Gary Doran said his city has received no funding to replace the sewer drain field that was washed away by a storm in the winter of 1998. That project has ranked high in the Needs and Issues Inventory each year since.

Other projects are already underway, but could use some state funds to help decrease the amount of loan funds needed.

Up to 10 projects from each city, port, special district and the county were ranked.

Those that ranked low, or werent ranked at all, still went into the state computers and may receive funding if an agency or foundation has money available for that kind of project. A high ranking could also enhance grant applications.

The community facilities category was the largest, with 43 projects ranked. In first place, with a cumulative score of 722, was the commercial retail center proposed by the Port of Brookings Harbor.

The new center would cost $1.2 million, with $500,000 of that coming from the ports matching funds.

Port Manager Russ Crabtree said the center will be the next phase of the ports retail project, and will compliment the existing commercial retail complex by the boardwalk.

He said ground has already been broken, and construction will begin in March.

The state funded the architectural and preliminary engineering.

The complex will serve a population base of 28,000, said Crabtree, and will attract visitors from the Rogue Valley.

He said he already has a listing of 26 new businesses that are interested in the complex.

County Commissioner Lucie La Bont hoped that meant Curry County might finally have a shoe store. Commissioner Marlyn Schafer said it would mean more jobs for Curry County.

The No. 2 community facilities project, with 700 points, was the Curry County public safety communications system.

In Curry County, the system currently serves the Sheriffs Office, Emergency Services, the Road Department, Curry General Hospital, fire, ambulance and police agencies, and Coos-Curry Electric Cooperative.

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It also serves the U.S. Customs Service, the Oregon State Forestry Department, the Oregon State Police, the U.S. Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management, and ham radio operators.

Sheriff Kent Owens wrote in his proposal, Curry Countys communication system is currently housed in inadequate facilities.

The deterioration and outdated equipment have put communications in jeopardy. Without prompt attention, the safety and security of residents and visitors could be compromised.

The project would serve Curry Countys 22,000 residents and an estimated 824,496 visitors annually.

The total cost would be $784,900, with $34,900 of that a local match from the countys completed feasibility study.

Crabtree said he had intimate knowledge of the project and believes it will receive federal funds.

Our match will be substantially higher than $50,000, he said.

La Bont said she hadnt received any answer from federal agencies yet, but Crabtree assured her she would.

Ranked No. 3 in the community facilities category, with 680 points, was the third phase of the Cannery Building project at the Port of Gold Beach.

The project would complete the renovation of the Cannery Building with office and retail space upstairs. An elevator and fire escape would make the upstairs handicapped accessible.

The port needs $310,000 more to complete the $641,453 project. It will borrow $331,453 from the Port Revolving Loan Fund.

Port Manager Mike Nielson said the project is underway, and will soon go out to bid.

The next category was infrastructure, and the top three projects had the highest numerical scores of all 91 projects ranked. The category ranked 33 projects.

In first place, with 745 points, was the inflow and infiltration repair project for the City of Gold Beach.

The project would examine, repair and replace sewer lines to bring the city into compliance with Department of Environmental Quality standards.

City Administrator Roy Bysegger said the project would help the city avoid fines, penalties and building moratoriums. Nielson said those things could also stifle growth at the port.

The project would cost $100,000, with $60,000 of that from local funds, including city wastewater fees.

The No. 2 project in infrastructure, with 740 points, was the wastewater drain field replacement for the City of Port Orford.

Doran said it was his citys highest priority. Port Orford is already under a moratorium which is holding up the construction of 50 buildings and some port projects.

A lack of infrastructure stops growth, said Schafer.

The $2,649,000 project would construct a new sewer outfall to the ocean to replace the one lost to El Nio storms. The city could provide $150,000 from sewer user fees.

The No. 3 project in the infrastructure category, with 725 points, was an 8,000 square-foot cold storage unit for the Port of Brookings Harbor.

Crabtree said the port has a quality ice facility, but no cold storage to hold fish products for long durations.

Schafer said it would enable the port to freeze products like eels at minus 50 degrees for overseas markets.

It could be big, she said, a huge help to the entire county and its fishermen.

La Bont didnt want to see Coos Bay get the jump on such a facility.

Crabtree said the facility would provide eight jobs, and would serve about 1,200 commercial fishermen at the port.

Nielson said, Dockside cold storage in Oregon is sadly lacking.

Crabtree said in his proposal, This project will enable fishermen to sell a value-added product and to explore opportunities in developing new fisheries.

He felt it would benefit the entire area within 400 miles of the port, with a population of 350,000.

Private investment was expected to pay for $150,000 of the $500,000 project. Crabtree said the port would break ground in March for the facility.

The committee also ranked 13 projects in the community readiness category. In first place, with 678 points, was the downtown revitalization action plan, and urban renewal plan and report, for the City of Gold Beach.

Schafer said the U.S. Forest Service is ready to serve as the lead agency on the project.

She said it was added to the Needs and Issues Inventory at the last minute by the Governors Office.

In his proposal, Bysegger said the project would prepare concept option plans for the revitalization of Ellensburg Avenue, and initiate an urban renewal feasibility study and report.

The project would cost $103,500, with city funds paying for $2,350.

The No. 2 project in the community readiness category, with 671 points, was a coordinated marketing plan for Southern Curry County for the Brookings-Harbor Chamber of Commerce.

The project description said it would produce a plan approved by relevant agencies and key employers that combines local resources to effectively market the community area to potential visitors and employers.

The plan would cost $25,000, with $2,500 of that coming from local sponsorships.

The No. 3 project in the community readiness category, with 652 points, was the Brookings Airport Master Plan update.

La Bont said the county needs only $2,500 to complete the $50,000 plan. The Federal Aviation Administration provided $45,000, while the state Aeronautics Section supplied $2,500.

The airports master plan had not been updated since the county took it over in 1991.

In her proposal, La Bont said, By updating, it will enable the county to have the necessary survey done to put in a Global Positioning System and an Automated Weather System. Another outcome will be a reconfiguration of the airport facilities to allow for growth.

Schafer said other counties accepted only the top five projects from each government entity for ranking, but Curry County took the top 10. She said she spent seven hours grading the 91 projects prior to the meeting.

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