A June 2019 review on Trip Advisor gave a poignant description of the Coos Bay Boardwalk that started off with “Nothing great to see.” I only wonder how many thousands of people will see that review and perhaps decide not to visit or bring their business here. Negative feedback on social media is almost inevitable, but many could be a catalyst for positive changes.
There have been many meetings and work on creating a Community Enhancement Plan that includes a Waterfront Development Partnership. Such a partnership might be just the forum for discussing and prioritizing improvements and focusing efforts on long-term benefits.
What should visitors see? Some might say they want a vibrant bay front, others may be more elaborate and want a waterfront that supports public access and business, provide recreational opportunities (such as walking, eating, and congregating), and others may be more focused on protecting the overall quality of life and environmental aspects. All of these goals are possible over time.
All of these goals are possible over time.
“Kind of run down but a beautiful view.”
The comment continues describing the waterfront as ‘kind of run down’ which could probably be applied to many rural disadvantaged communities that have lost economic vitality. The southern Oregon coast is blessed with several waterfronts many of which face some of the same issues as the larger ports such as Bellingham, Austin, Philadelphia, and San Diego: What purposes do we want our waterfront to serve? And how do we achieve those goals? Who decides what projects to do first?
This waterfront partnership was formed through an Intergovernmental Agreement for areas falling within the boundaries of the Bay Area Enterprise Zone and the Coos Bay Estuary Management Plan. A lot of water has come and gone since the plan was first developed in early 2014. There have been around 30 public meetings where there are some agreements and some disagreements. The Waterfront Development Partnership would focus on five areas:
1. Establish a Wetland Mitigation Bank;
2. Establish programs to address Brownfield/Vacant Derelict Sites;
3. Provide Grants to Support Public Agency Projects;
4. Establish a Program to Support Private and/or Non-Profit Investment; and
5. Establish a Program to Support Land Use Planning and Permit Assistance
A great meal, a break in the sun, what a great afternoon?
“There are some historical displays...but when we walked up... there were some homeless people laying...”
The plan takes monies that were pledged by Jordan Cove in lieu of taxes that are being deferred under an Enterprise zone allowance. An Enterprise zone is an area that exempts businesses from local property taxes for a specific time period. There are 73 Enterprise zones in Oregon, with 56 of those residing in rural areas, and 10 ports all meeting specific economic hardship criteria.
Coos Bay, North Bend, Charleston, and Coos County benefit from a Community Enhancement Plan and the development of a waterfront partnership. The detail on how to make this work is still elusive for the work group and discussions continue.
“I do love looking at the boats.”
A compelling waterfront agreement could start the renewal process and provide the funding for improving public access and use, making adjacent underutilized parcels more attractive, and perhaps improving how the waterfronts and our communities are perceived. The challenge is to be creative in finding a plan that all of the partners can agree with. That goal will take a lot more negotiations and discussions.
As for the quotes from the Trip Advisor, we are stuck with them for now. We can change the situation. It’s just going to take a bit more work to get there.
The South Coast Development Council focuses on activities that involve business retention/ recruitment, and expansion. Outdoor recreation activities, such as biking, can help diversify and support businesses all along the coast. Let's get out and ride!