Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Mailbag: We need the public's input on the harbor

May 24, 2012
 | 9:22 p.m.

If Newport Harbor’s future is important to you, this is the time to contribute to a process that will define harbor improvements for generations to come.  Harbor Commissioner Brad Avery invites your thoughts and urges you to participate.  Read on:

When it comes to Newport Harbor, everyone agrees on two things: It's one of the finest small craft harbors in the world and it's essentially built out. The 1,200 private homes on the bay take up 85% of the waterfront. The remaining portion is occupied by commercial operations, public access areas and public institutions.
The harbor is magnificent, thanks to careful public and private stewardship over the past 100 years.
Looking ahead, the harbor will remain essentially the same beautiful place for the next 100 years, with many improvements for all users. However, this will only happen if we provide at least an equal amount of planning and funding that was contributed by citizens and City Hall over the last century.
The harbor may be built out, but it will never be finished. The elements are against us: higher water, silt, rot, corrosion, erosion. We demand cleaner water, better services and character preservation.
A comprehensive vision for the harbor exists. "Harbor and Bay Element, fourth chapter of the city's 2006 General Plan, sets forth goals and policies based on the outcomes from a four-year public process. In broad terms, the 18-page document shows the way forward for managing and improving Newport Harbor for generations to come. It is a reflection of our values, a guide for decision making and a view to our harbor's future. It was approved by voters, and it's easily found on the city's website.
The heavy lifting needed to implement the plan led to the creation of Tidelands Management Committee, formed a year ago by then-Mayor Mike Henn and council members Nancy Gardner and Ed Selich. Along with a citizens' advisory group, the committee is working toward the completion of a master infrastructure plan for the harbor, Upper Newport Bay and our beaches.
It is also coming to grips with the challenges of financing what will ultimately be a budget in excess of $100 million. Regardless of revenue issues, a solid plan is needed to fulfill the vision of the 2006 Harbor and Bay Element.
This is where you come in. Despite many public meetings on this subject, informed input is still needed. What improvements do you think the harbor needs? Below is a partial list of the infrastructure improvements being considered. Additionally, the Harbor Commission is seeking ways to retain harbor character and improve services.
Infrastructure items
•Lower bay dredging (now occurring). New higher seawall for Balboa Island. Build Marina Park and Mariner's Mile Walkway.
Harbor character/services
•Should there be a limit on the size of vessels in the harbor? Do current pier head and/or project lines need adjustment? Should Newport conduct its own on-going dredging?
•Should Lower Castaways be developed for public small boat launching? Is a water taxi service needed? How do we keep marine businesses on the waterfront? How do we improve services for mooring lessees?
It's vitally important that we consider every idea. The best ideas usually come from those who use the harbor and know it well, but we need fresh input from all citizens.
Please email any harbor commissioner with your thoughts about maintaining and improving Newport Harbor. The commission welcomes your input. Our next meeting is at 6 p.m. June 13 in the Council Chambers. The Tidelands Management Committee will review the Infrastructure Master Plan in detail at its meeting at 4 p.m. June 20 at the Oasis Senior Center.
•Duffy Duffield:
•Brad Avery:
•Duncan McIntosh:
•Chairman Ralph Rodheim
•Karen Rhyne:

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