Port of Brookings Harbor Commissioners canceled all events through the end of the year and extended the closure of Beachfront RV Park to May 25 during a special meeting Thursday, April 30, via teleconference.
Both votes were unanimous, 5-0. This is the third special meeting Port Commissioners have held in April to address issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent orders from Gov. Kate Brown. On April 17, Commissioners gave Port Manager Gary Dehlinger the authority to dip into reserves to keep the Port due to a significant drop in revenue due to the governor’s stay-home directives.
Despite canceling all events through the remainder of the year, board Chairman Roy Davis said they could revisit the decision at any time.
“We can always revisit — that is for sure,” Davis said. “If things open up we can bring it back to the table and revisit everything and reevaluate.”
Gov. Brown is expected to talk about slowly reopening the state and what that may look like on Monday, May 4. Large gatherings are addressed in the final of three phases. To move from one phase to another requires 14 days with no surge in COVID-19 related cases. Brown has not said when the first phase would begin.
The uncertainty has events making the tough decision to cancel or postpone.
“The (Southern Oregon) Kite Festival did cancel their event on their own,” Dehlinger said. “Other events haven’t canceled yet. I guess the county fair canceled their event this year. I think it would be wise if we follow suit and cancel our events this year.”
The Port’s website listed 11 confirmed events that were scheduled from May to December at the Port, including the Saturday Market at the Port, the Dog Days of Summer Brew Festival and the Pirates of the Pacific Festival. The market was to begin its season on May 30.
A couple of commissioners initially were not in favor of canceling all events for the remainder of the year.
“Crescent City has canceled their 4th of July this year,” said Commissioner Sharon Hartung. “The way things are going I think we should let things be canceled at least through July. Maybe near the end of July if things have improved, maybe we should bring it back to the table and discuss it further.”
Dehlinger said event organizers wanted a definitive answer.
“Just so the commissioners know there is a lot of planning involved and if these organizers are not knowing what is going on they are not going to have vendors lined up,” Dehlinger said. “Bruce Ellis actually told me that he would prefer to have things canceled now instead of just dragging things on and canceling later because it’s just going to foul things up for planning. That was his suggestion.”
Any deposits that were paid to the Port for events will be refunded. The same will be done for Beachfront RV Park reservations through May 25.
Extending the RV park closure puts it in line with recent action by Oregon State Parks other government entities in the county.
Curry County Commissioners and the City Councils of Brookings, Port Orford and Gold Beach extended their bans on short-term stays at transient lodging establishments, including hotels, motels and RV parks. The county board is going to revisit its decision next week.
Sporthaven Beach access, launch ramps and cleaning stations are still open to the public at the Port.
The subject of reopening was brought up by Port Commissioner Richard Heap.
“It’s my thought that the reopening of the county should be coordinated with the county commissioners, the cities and the ports,” Heap said. “I think we need to be thoughtful and deliberate about how we reopen things up. To the extent that we can, I certainly would like to see the effort to reopen this county be coordinated.”