Gold Beach: A year of accomplishments

By Jane Stebbins, Pilot staff writer March 28, 2014 08:43 pm

Gold Beach City Administrator Jodi Fritts outlined this week the city’s accomplishments of the past year and capital improvement plans for the next — the first plans since 2010 when the city took a step back from spending money in light of the Great Recession.

Some items postponed to the future included creating a parks and recreation district and developing a community vision and mission statement; others are ongoing and involve updating codes and conducting work to enhance the quality of life in town.

Fritts said city officials are most proud of having the problems of a crumbling wastewater treatment plant behind them.

“The wastewater treatment plant went online — that’s the biggest thing to happen in town in … forever,” Fritts said.

The city’s old treatment facility was failing, and drew the attention of state health and environmental agencies.

“The old plant was built in the early 1960s,” Fritts said. “Literally, it was baling wire and duct tape.”

Right when the city needed it most — the week the county fair kicked off — the plant failed.

“The DEQ was exceptionally ticked off with us,” said Mayor Karl Popoff. “They’d been on us and we’d been ignoring them for quite some time.”

Into the future

An upcoming issue could be just as big, and involves the possible annexation of Wedderburn, the community on the north side of the Rogue River, into the city of Gold Beach.

“We’re just testing the waters; we’re not trying to force this on anyone,” Popoff said. “We’re trying to find out what kind of interest there might be.”

Fritts said a citizen approached the city in 2012 asking about the possibility to see if the city would contract its police force to patrol the unincorporated area on the other side of the Isaac Lee Patterson bridge.

“The short answer is no,” Fritts said. “If you’re in the Urban Growth Boundary and you want city services, that’s a process you can go through. The easiest way is to annex into the city.”

Numerous evaluations would have to be conducted, including the figuring of tax assessment values, the number of acres and other issues. But before that would even begin, city leaders want to know if people are even interested in the idea.

“It’s just very, very, very preliminary,” Fritts said. 

Another idea the city is contemplating is allowing a disc golf group to use part of Buffington Park as a course for the popular sport.

“I’d never even heard of disc golf,” Fritts said. “It’s like … Frisbee stuff.”

She said she’d initially thought creation of a course would involve cutting trees, but learned the users need trees and other landmarks for use as targets. The only work needed for the course would be brush trimming — a welcome chore.

“Because of the economic crash, we have … squatters,” Fritts said. “Ten years ago, we never had that problem. It’s kind of like the Grapes of Wrath; it’s kind of weird.”

She said the city is particularly proud of its involvement with the veterans throughout the county in building a memorial at the south end of town.