Some members of Seaside City Council want to take matters into the city’s hands and reopen the beaches — sooner rather than later.
Seth Morrisey brought a motion to add a discussion and vote on the reopening of Seaside beaches, trails and waterways at the city’s next council meeting on Monday.
The motion came from frustration with the slow pace for reopening the city after Gov. Kate Brown’s stay-at-home order.
“I think we’re in a unique position,” Morrisey said. “We really need to make decisions for the best interests of Seaside and its residents and not wait for that to come from the county level.”
The Oregon Parks and Recreation Department closed Seaside beaches on April 10 at the request of city officials.
The beaches remain closed from the estuary to the Cove.
City Councilor Randy Frank said he would like to see the beach opened as soon as Monday. “There are a lot of people impacted,” he said. “I’d love to see the beach open. I agree that perhaps the timing is important, but personally I feel May 4 would be a good date.”
Hotels could open soon after, he said, with a percentage of their rooms open and social distancing measures in place.
Not all city councilors felt the rush to reopen.
City Councilor Steve Wright called for a united front with other cities in Clatsop County. “We can’t just do it in a vacuum on our own. We have to do it with everyone else.”
Councilor Tom Horning asked the city to consider Gov. Brown’s draft framework for reopening, which requires a decrease in coronavirus cases for at least two weeks, among other benchmarks.
“I want to make sure we don’t jump out ahead of that process and make a decision that isn’t compatible with the rest of the medical community,” Horning said.
Councilor Tita Montero shared a goal for coordination with the county Public Health Department, hospitals and emergency responders, as well as the county’s five cities.
“If we open the beaches and nobody has anything else open, we can rely on there being a deluge to our city,” Montero said.
The council’s discussion follows a meeting last week of the Seaside Reopening Task Force Ad Hoc Committee, comprised of the city’s first responders and business leaders.
At that meeting, state parks and recreation ranger Justin Parker advised “alignment with cities, counties and the governor.”
Fire Chief Joey Daniels said the beach closure had limited training opportunities for volunteers, including lifeguards.
Police Chief Dave Ham told the task force that when the beach reopens, it should be in conjunction with the reopening of restaurants, hotels and retail businesses.
Morrisey’s motion for a discussion and vote on reopening Seaside’s beaches was unanimously adopted by city councilors despite a consensus on the issue.
“I would like to vote on either opening that day or set a date during that discussion when we would open,” he said.
Residents are invited to provide email input in advance of the meeting, which will be broadcast via Zoom and Facebook.