By Boyd C. Allen

Pilot Staff Writer

Brookings City Council is the latest agency to jump on board pushing the state for a permanent solution to problems at Hooskanaden Slide, a section of U.S. 101 that washed out in recent spring rainstorms.

At their meeting Tuesday, Brookings City Council voted to send the state a letter supporting changes sought by the South West Area Commission on Transportation (SWACT).

SWACT recently sent a letter to the Oregon Transportation Commission (OTC) asking for a “preliminary feasibility study for a more permanent solution to the Hooskanaden Slide,” according to SWACT Chair Gary Milliman. The letter asked for the study to include short-term improvements for Carpenterville Road and emphasized the need to address economic as well as transportation costs associated with repeated slides at Hooskanaden.

SWACT is a 27-member advisory committee consisting of local officials and transportation system stakeholders in the Curry, Coos and Douglas Counties area.

In supporting the SWACT letter, Brookings Councilor Ron Hedenskog said the Oregon Department of Transportation had short-term solutions for the slide but the state needed to look at the costs to the community of the repeated slides and especially if there was a “real failure” — a catastrophic slide closing U.S. 101 for a long period of time.

Council voted to send a letter from the city supporting the aims of the SWACT letter, including a list of its concerns such as the dangers of redirected emergency ambulance service, a lack of fuel deliveries to local stations, impact on commodity deliveries and harm done to tourism due to cancelled reservations.

Brookings ED

In other actions, council authorized the mayor to sign a letter of support for Senate Bill 941, “appropriating grant funding for the Curry Health District’s (CHD) expansion of emergency medical care in Brookings.”

City documents state the city worked with the CHD to change Oregon administration rules to allow a stand-alone medical emergency department (ED) in rural areas under certain conditions. The documents say those rules were changed in 2016, but CHD and county fiscal conditions did not allow the ED to be implemented.

SB 941 would appropriate $1.7 million to expand ED services at the Curry Medical Center in Brookings.

The city’s letter to the Joint Committee on Ways and Means supports SB 941, saying Brookings is largest rural city in the state without a hospital, noting the Brookings-Harbor area has the largest population base in Curry County — the county with the most aged population in the state and “a greater need for access to emergency medical care.”

Other council actions:

The council voted to waive the $252 park user fees for the Brookings Harbor Community Theater. The group will offer food and present movies on two nights in Azalea Park. Mayor Jake Pieper said, “These are good events; I went last year and it was cool.”

The council approved changes to city ordinances regarding alcohol regulations on city property. The regulations originally forbid open containers or consumption of alcohol on non-permitted areas of city premises, excluding highways. These rules allowed open containers or consumption on sidewalks because sidewalks are legally considered part of the highway. The revisions remove the exemption for highways — sidewalks — and clarify other portions of the code. Citations for breaking the regulations could carry a penalty of up to $720, according to Brookings Police Chief Kelby McCrae.

Deputy Finance Director Anella Ehlers presented appropriations for the 2019-20 budget and required information for accepting state revenue sharing for fiscal year 2019-20 in separate public hearings. The council later voted to accept state revenues estimated at $64,000 and adopted the FY 2019-20 appropriations.

Council passed water and sewer rates unchanged from last year’s rates. There was a slight increase in system replacement fees based on an increase in the Consumer Price Index of 1.9 percent which will translate into an increase of 22 cents on each customer’s bill.

Council approved a cost of living increase of 2.5 percent for Curry Transfer and Recycling effective July 1. The increase will raise a typical bill 69 cents per month.

Reach Boyd C. Allen at ballen@currypilot.com

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