The Brookings City Council is moving forward with finding solutions for concerns voiced about the Social Security Bar.
Illegal activities there, coupled with complaints from adjacent residents, have been ongoing for years, according to the background report for an Aug. 5 Brookings City Council workshop.
Social Security Bar’s name originated because the original owners would grant only retirees the access to fishing and boating through their property.
Recently, the site has been plagued by illegal dumping and fires, camping, late-night partying and off-road vehicle use, all of which have “overshadowed” daytime recreational activities, according to the background report.
The council has recommended that Curry County Parks Director Josh Hopkins put together a presentation, similar to the one prepared for the workshop, to be held during a future City Council meeting, allowing for public comment.
“The county’s motivation is to get more south-county opportunities for recreation,” Brookings Deputy Public Works and Development Director Jay Trost said.
Under a proposal presented previously by three dozen area residents, Curry County would develop 1.6 acres of city-owned property at Social Security Bar into an RV park with a camp host, restroom and shower building, and trash-removal services.
The city-owned parcel is adjacent to a Department of State Lands-owned gravel bar used by fishermen, boaters and swimmers.
The Department of State Lands favors providing a 15-year lease of the gravel bar for dry RV camping, to complement a developed facility on the city’s property.
This isn’t the first time such a proposal has been discussed. It had been raised on Mar. 6, 2014, Aug. 8, 2018 and Oct. 1, 2018, when the Brookings City Council indicated a willingness to explore a long-term lease rather than deeding the property to Curry County.
Long-term plans considered by the council have included using the site as a future water source, since it is above tidal influence.
During the Aug. 5 workshop, council member Ron Hedenskog said that regardless of whether the City of Brookings decides to lease or to sell the property, it should record a public right of way.
Individual council members raised a number of questions and concerns regarding the Social Security Bar’s future. Council member Bill Hamilton suggested he would prefer that Brookings “keep the property and make the (RV camping) money ourselves,” as opposed to selling it to Curry County.
Council member John McKinney noted that citizens already are calling 911 about the site, and asked how having a camp host and a developed RV park would make any difference?
On the other hand, said Curry County Parks Director Hopkins, his department’s experience at Flores Lake Campground in Sixes was that the presence of a camp host issuing an initial warning curtailed 90% of complaints.
Hopkins added that regulations have been revamped to allow for a violation to be cited as a misdemeanor, with fines starting at $440 per violation.
Brookings Mayor Jake Pieper commented that the county could “probably do a lot more with this than the city could, and the number-one priority is keeping the bar open to public access.”
Hopkins agreed, noting that Curry County has better resources for implementing an RV park because the county receives state RV license fees and lottery dollars to develop recreation sites. Those funds from the state are not available to city governments.
“The county already has experience operating an RV park and the city does not,” Mayor Pieper said.
According to Hopkins, the county receives about $70,000 per year from the state in support of its two existing campgrounds, or roughly $1,000 per camp spot per year. The fees generated by an RV park at the Social Security Bar site would easily cover the costs of a camp host, septic pumping fees and trash services. Preliminary budget figures show costs for the proposal at $7,430 per year.
The councilors recommended moving the proposal forward to a regular City Council session and advertising that session to encourage public comments.
At the special council meeting held before the workshop, council members approved:
• Spending $70,668 to upgrade the UV disinfection system at the wastewater treatment plant.
• A bid for replacing a 2-inch water line in the area of Ransom Avenue and 3rd Street.
• Providing a letter of support to the Chetco Community Library for a grant proposal to fund a Holocaust exhibit.
In other business at the workshop, the City Council approved:
• Defining and exploring proposed revisions to land development uses for homeless resources, which would later be presented as a comprehensive zone change or overlay.
• Moving forward with updating a strategic plan to make text edits and compile various documents of individual updates to approved items.
To access the full Social Security Bar proposal, visit https://www.brookings.or.us/AgendaCenter/.