In recovery?

As 2021 gets started, leaders in the city of Brookings hope to help small businesses that have struggled due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Many of Brookings’ projects for 2021 are well underway, according to city staff members.

The city’s new year is already planned and laid out in the annual budgeting process, which runs from July to June, according to City Manager Janell Howard.

City leaders went into that process with the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and its lingering economic impacts in mind.

“The effects of the current pandemic will be with us for awhile as we work through these new challenges, staff will continue to provide the present level or improved level of service,” Howard wrote in the city’s budget document. “It will be critical for the community and (city) to be flexible and responsive to issues as they arise.”

Key changes for the new fiscal year, which extends into 2021, ran the gamut of city services.

A five-year master plan for the Brookings airport, planned to include an airport terminal project and overall infrastructure improvements, is slated to be finalized by the end of June, according to the city’s budget. The city purchased the airport from Curry County in 2018, and intends to fund almost all of the airport with FAA and state grants.

The city also committed to some improvements to the Salmon Run Golf Course. The city council took a major step forward on those efforts when it transferred the management of the course to a private firm, which began Jan. 1.

Other planned capital projects during the fiscal year include improvements to the Azalea Park snack shack, equipment replacements for the public safety radio system and savings for future capital purchases.

Further, city leaders plan to re-open negotiations for the city’s agreement with the Coos Curry Electric Cooperative, which is slated to expire in 2021, and to make future plans for reinstating the Ferry Creek water supply after the Ferry Creek Dam was classified as high risk in 2018.

According to Tony Baron, the city’s public works & development services director, city staff members are working through the city’s budgeted projects as planned.

“Projects so far are on track,” Baron said.

There are also a number of infrastructure projects on the docket in the new year, he said. City staff will be doing cast-in-place pipe repair under Del Norte Lane and doing a pump replacement project at the Ranney groundwater near the Chetco River, which supplies the city’s water.

The city also has plans for a street improvement project between Oak Street and Arnold Lane. For Fern Avenue near Brookings-Harbor High School, the city’s received a $1.3 million Safe Routes to School grant for road improvements, Baron said.

Another of the city’s water projects budgeted for the current fiscal year was completed done last year.

“We completed phase two of the UV disinfection project at the wastewater treatment plant,” Baron said.

In the new year, Baron said the city’s planning to learn from one key challenge it saw in 2020. Throughout the pandemic, manufacturing and supply chains of all kinds were disrupted by stay-at-home orders and factory closures, and Brookings wasn’t immune to the impacts of those changes.

“Material procurement was probably one of our biggest hurdles,” Baron said of the last year.

While those supply chain challenges and delays didn’t stop any projects, they caused delays and cost increases felt across the board — water infrastructure supplies, wastewater treatment plant materials, catch basins and more all cost the city a bit more, Baron said.

Still, those challenges provided city staff an opportunity to learn. Baron said that, for future projects, the city plans to “make sure that we have parts available for projects on the horizon and develop alternatives if we have to.”

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(1) comment

The Count of Curry Commerce

Covid didn't cause a lot of the problems it gets blamed for. It simply exposed all the incompetence of government - local to federal - already had, and gave them an excuse to be that way. Just not being a flake can make any business prosperous beyond their wildest dreams right now.

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