Representatives from Lincoln County administration and the city of Waldport met in an hour-long virtual meeting Monday evening to discuss potential drought conditions, work on Crestline Drive in Waldport and more. (Photo by Michael Heinbach)

WALDPORT — The southern portion of Lincoln County’s ability to handle a potential drought this summer and the potential transfer of the county’s jurisdiction of a portion of Crestline Drive to the city of Waldport were among the topics discussed Monday evening, June 7, during a joint meeting of representatives from the county and Waldport.

Hosted by Doug Hunt, Lincoln County Commission chair, meeting attendees included Commissioner Kaety Jacobson, Sheriff Curtis Landers, Counsel Wayne Belmont, and sheriff’s office Lt. Adam Shanks from Lincoln County. Waldport Mayor Greg Holland, councilors Jerry Townsend, Sue Woodruff, Greg Dunn, Jayme Morris and Rick Booth and City Manager Dan Cutter attended the virtual meeting representing the city of Waldport.

Jacobson spearheaded the discussion about shared water resources and the strong possibility that weather conditions will force the county to soon declare drought conditions. She spoke of an informal county drought committee that has been meeting weekly since the end of last month, composed of local stakeholders from forest and wildlands, agriculture state agencies such as Fish and Wildlife and others. She shared a somewhat foreboding update from a meeting of the drought committee held earlier in the day

“The recommendation from the group today was to meet again next week and pull in all of our local water purveyors, including cities and smaller water purveyors and small water districts to basically get them ready to dust off their curtailment plans and be ready to implement,” Jacobson said. “If things continue the way they are, predictions say you’ll likely need to declare a drought sometime in the next two to three weeks.”

Jacobson added that in preparation, county administration has a drought declaration ready to go when conditions warrant it, and the county is working with local water suppliers to get them ready for an impending declaration.

During a discussion led by the county’s public works director, Roy Kinion, the county appeared to be more than willing to transfer a portion of Crestline Drive, currently outside of city limits, from Lincoln County to the city of Waldport. That could come after a sidewalk project paid for via an Oregon Safe Route to School grant that will construct sidewalks near Waldport Middle and High and Crestview Heights schools.

“I think we’re really hoping that we can partner now with the county to do a kind of, at the end of the project, do a cleanup and turnover to the city, which usually involves some repaving and doing some base work and some other work that will allow us to realize some savings on the grant, which allows us to both extend the sidewalk and potentially actually include some of the sewer line in part of that project,” Cutter said.

Kinion was agreeable to the suggestions, but noted that similar jurisdictional transfers must clear substantial red tape before they’re executed.

“I’m on board for trying to work something out there,” Kinion said. “We have done some jurisdictional transfers recently. Unfortunately, they seem to take decades.”

When Holland spoke of the Waldport City Council’s recent achievements, he spoke glowingly of obtaining the Safe Routes to School grant, and shifting the Waldport Heritage Museum to the Alsea Bay Historic Interpretive Center, potentially opening as early as July 1. Woodruff added that Wave Broadband recently brought high-speed internet to the area.

“Actually, we have converted, and it’s cheaper than what we were paying for less speed before,” Woodruff said. “Not only that, now with some competition, PEAK (internet) has also joined, so we now have two purveyors of broadband (service), which is great for all of our families.”

Holland noted the city’s looming infrastructure issues, specifically with its water system, are the greatest challenges the city faces in the next five years.

“Our biggest problems are with infrastructure related to the water tank and to the treatment facility, which are going to need upgrading to meet DEQ (Department of Environmental Quality) and other federal regulations,” Holland said. “So that’s going to be our biggest worry in the coming years, and we’re trying to make funding for that available. We estimate that it’s going to be about $20 million in the next five years.”

Holland said he anticipates an increase in the near future in city utility rates, and the city receiving loans, and grants to fund water system improvement projects ahead.

Also during the hour-long meeting, Jacobson praised the Waldport community after she revealed zip code data that indicated that as of early this week, 59.5 percent of eligible Waldport residents received at least one COVID-19 vaccine shot.

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