I planned on staying neutral in this matter, but I feel I need to be part of the public that you want to be involved in the discussion. As the business that sits on this property (on Southwest Second Street, across from Newport City Hall), I am ecstatic that we are finally getting a business back on this property.
My first point I want get across is that for 10 years, we have been paying yearly for the parking district that does nothing for our mall (Nostalgia Estate Sales Antique Mall). This was set up to provide parking, signage and upgrade for Newport’s Deco District. We have always been opposed to this charge, as we have ample parking and the signage did nothing for us. Uptown has not changed in all this time — still vacancies and no parking. By vacating this property, you would be upgrading an area that is part of the Deco District and has been vacant eight years now since the Courthouse Café was torn down.
I read your concerns in the paper, and this would cause no traffic issues as it stays directly off of Highway 101. If anyone is hurt by this it is me, as I will lose some parking. I am excited that we are getting a new business on the property. The Courthouse Café serviced city hall people, county people and mall employees for lunches, coffee and snacks. This business would fill that hole.
COVID has hurt our businesses terribly, and I thank the city for the grant we received, as it helped pay for utilities and other expenses. Newport plaza has been a godsend to us during this transition. Not all landlords have done the same. Nostalgia Estate Sales, Newport Bay Candle Co. and SubZero Swirlz were aiming for closing. Brett Fox and the investors helped pull us through even though they, too, were having issues. More empty businesses would not be a benefit to the city of Newport. Now the gas station (across the highway) is gone.
Some of you know that I was on the city council for 16 years. I am aware that everyone within 200 feet of the vacation has been notified, and the only people who are fighting this vacation are employees of the county. The same employees will lose their free exclusive parking spaces that are on public property paid for by the taxpayers. Maybe I should have my employee’s park there so customers can use our parking lot.
Parking is always going to be an issue, but it is not the responsibility of the city to provide it for businesses. The county has its own parking lots, and I have ample parking for my people. The city has not dedicated this as a public square. Prior to this, it was a homeless square when the clock was there, and the city did not maintain it well. The county has had big parking issues, and it is their job to satisfy this as jurists and employees want to use our lots.
Please pass this street vacation as it will be a great upgrade to the Deco District and to the city hall area, as well as our mall. If we don’t move forward, the city will become stagnant. This is good tax revenue for the city of Newport.
Peggy Sabanskas is a resident of Newport.