Newport parks board considers new pier near former mayor's home at current mayor’s requestThe Newport Park Board last week said it wants to conduct a historical survey of the end of a vacated Newport street that meets the Mississippi River before moving forward with a plan to build a fishing pier as the city’s mayor proposed to the board earlier this year.
By: Jon Avise, South Washington County Bulletin
The Newport Park Board last week said it wants to conduct a historical survey of the end of a vacated Newport street that meets the Mississippi River before moving forward with a plan to build a fishing pier as the city’s mayor proposed to the board earlier this year.
Mayor Tim Geraghty asked Newport Park Board members to probe possible grant opportunities from the state Department of Natural Resources to fund construction of a fishing pier in the Mississippi River on the end of 6th Street.
But the board slowed that proposal last week, voting to recommend an archeological survey be conducted on the site as suggested by Newport Heritage Preservation Commissioner Robert Vogel.
The site, near historical Pioneer Park, would make a convenient spot for a public fishing pier, Geraghty told board members in April and city council members in May, something he says residents have been asking for.
But the grassy end of 6th Street, which slopes down to the river that defines the western edge of Newport, has some impressive history of its own: It was a riverboat landing where, during the Civil War, area Union Army soldiers boarded steamboats to carry them off to war. And Park Board members said they wanted to learn all they could about the site before moving forward.
“It would not be surprising if there were artifacts there,” said board member Susan Lindoo.
The cost of the historical survey of the site would be between $5,000 and $15,000, a cost that assistant public works director John Neska admitted to the board was “pretty steep.”
“But, being it deals with the history of Newport and things like that,” he said, “I think with discussions between the (Heritage Preservation Commission) and us (that) we’re always trying to find out and know what the history of Newport is.”
The city also needs to confirm it owns the property, Neska said, a question that would require surveying and cost $2,600 to resolve.
Former mayor Kevin Chapdelaine said he agreed with Vogel’s survey request, saying: “There’s a lot to be learned there.”
Chapdelaine spoke at last week’s meeting because the location of the pier would sit next to his riverfront home. He said he is in favor of extending Pioneer Park to the river to provide a riverfront public area. But he said it should be done as part of a broader plan.
“Let’s not worry about little street ends and how, you know, we can put a dock in the water,” Chapdelaine said in his first appearance at Newport City Hall since Geraghty defeated him in last November’s mayoral race. “Let’s think about the big picture, where you can have big docks, and city docks, and fishing piers and the whole thing.”
City council members will take up the pier issue and the Park Board’s recommendations at a future meeting.