Monday evening the Astoria City Council heard three presentations, adopted three ordinances, approved a liquor licence application, heard an update on the public works department response to the 5th and Duane street slide, then held a discussion regarding feeding cats on the city Riverwalk.
The first presentation was on the council goals for the fiscal year. The council set 13 overall goals for 2013 -2014 covering a wide range of areas from finishing long awaited projects to continuing support for others while making a promise to improve communications with all citizens and making commitments to support the downtown historic district downtown master plan and promotion of the arts. The council continues it's support for an Astoria highway bypass, improvements to pedestrian and traffic safety and support for fishery issues.
The council goals also include developing a program to promote "Citizens Helping In The Parks" with emphasis on neighborhood parks and the riverwalk.
The council then heard a presentation from Coast Guard Captain Len Tumbarello and Dr. Tracy Erfling to introduce and discuss the Astoria park, Recreation and Community Foundation. The organization was founded in 2010 and Tumbarello said that it has an active group of just five people who have so far been successful in providing equipment to the Port of Play Facility and would like to be able to take on more but that will require additional participaton from citizens.
The council then heard a design evaluation and recommendation for the replacement of the bridge at 19th and Irving Avenue. The project has been three years in the making since the council approved a staff request to enter into an intergovernmental agreement with the Oregon department of Transportation to obtain funding through the bridge replacement fund. City Manager Paul Benoit says the state will pick up the lion share of the $5.87 million dollar project with the city making up about $600,000 of the remaining projected cost to replace the 67 year-old bridge. The council voted in favor of a single span bridge with sidewalks on both sides and railing like that was used on the Franklin Ave bridge. Council voted to approve a full closure with direction to staff to explore a temporary pedestrian crossing in some form.
The city has granted a non-exclusive franchise to Internet provider Lightspeed Networks. At a previous meeting Benoit said that he believes the company's goal is to provide Internet services to large commercial businesses and will not be offering residential service at this time. The Council also adopted an ordinance that will establish a Criminal History Records Check Policy which will allow the city to perform a records check for applicants for city employment, liquor licence applicants and certain volunteer positions. The city will now have the ability to access Oregon State Police criminal offender information. The policy also sets procedures for the use of that information.
The council approved an "after the fact" payment of funds that were used to respond to the 5th and Duane streets landslide that occured on December 19th and 20th on the south side of Duane street affecting the area between 5th and 6th streets. $41,282.67 was spend on the emergency response and clean up.
The city council also approved liquor licence applications for the Fort George Brewery & Public House for a change licence privilege and a winery licence. The change would licence the operation as a brewery instead of a brewery and public house and add the winery licence. In a letter to the city council, owner Chris Nemlowill explains that over the last five years Fort George has increased it's self distribution network, selling directly to bars and stores and has reached a point where the brewpub licence no longer covers the amount of beer they are producing. Nemlowill says his operation has reached 6500 barrels of beer. To continue to grow the company needs to be licenced as a brewery and not just a "Brewpub". Also, Nemlowill says after discussions with the OLCC it was found that to continue growing a winery licence is actually the best option as it has the most flexibility of any liquor license allowing Fort George to continue selling wine. He also says that with approval of the winery licence he intends to partner with Wandering Angus of Salem to make some custom hard ciders. Nemlowill tells the council that Fort George started with 6 employees in 2007 and now employs 50 including three full-time positions in distribution.
The Astoria council also had a discussion on feeding feral cats that make a home on the Astoria Riverwalk. The item was placed on the agenda by Councilor Karen Mellin who offered the council information about how many other small animals and birds the cats kill which she indicated is shockingly high. Mellin brought pictures of an area on the riverwalk where someone has build little shelters for the cats which she says also attract raccoons. She says a lot of people object to the mess that has been created along the walk as some people leave food for the cats. Councilor Arlene Lamaer says that the study quoted by Mellin is thought by other experts to be overstated. She said she is a cat person and finds the little cat village quirky but not dangerous. Councilor Herzig said he supports Lamear and suggests a humane approach to the issue. Staff was directed to talk about different options for dealing with the growing cat population and bring those ideas back to the council.