Visitors to the Newport Bayfront watch sea lions below Port Dock 1 on Tuesday. A citizen task force is recommending the Newport Sea Lion Docks Foundation receive a $10,000 grant to help fund new docks for the mammals and an extended viewing platform. (Photos by Larry Coonrod)
By Larry Coonrod
NEWPORT— The city’s Tourism Facility Grant Task Force on Tuesday gave a thumbs up to grant applications for sea lion docks, the Pacific Maritime & Heritage Center and Pacific Communities Health District Foundation while rejecting a proposal to fund a spring chinook salmon fishery.
Newport formed the task force in 2011 to help disburse $1 million in grants aimed at increasing tourism. Funding came from room taxes collected in the early 2000s to build a convention center in Newport. That project never got off the ground.
The city so far has awarded about $900,000 in matching grants to fund projects with the Oregon Coast Aquarium, Pacific Maritime & Heritage Center, sea lion docks and Oregon Museum of Science and Industry.
The task force reviewed grant applications for the remaining $100,000. Final approval of the grant recommendations is up to the city council.
Sea Lion Docks
The Newport Sea Lion Docks Foundation received approval for a $10,000 grant toward building permanent sea lion docks and an extended viewing platform adjacent to Port Dock 1 on the Bayfront.
The foundation last year received a $50,000 tourism facility-matching grant from the city. Foundation president Bob Ward said the project’s cost estimate rose from $100,000 to $125,000 because of new environmental regulations banning the use of treated wood for dock material.
Local merchants formed the Newport Sea Lion Docks Foundation after the old sea lion docks, installed in the 1990s began falling apart a few years ago. The sea lions are a popular draw on the Bayfront and Port Dock 1 offers a unique opportunity to view the mammals up close.
Foundation member Bob Ward said an estimated 250,000 tourists visit Port Dock 1 to watch the sea lions.
“I think we give a pretty good return on tourist dollars,” said.
In recommending approval of the sea lion dock grant, task force members said they were impressed by the amount of fundraising the foundation had done, including significant grants from the Oregon Community Fund, Meyer Memorial Trust and Lincoln County Board of Commissioners.