"The money is there, so we will get it done," said Lloyd Dalton, a design
engineer in the city's Public Works Department, which will undertake
major repairs to the surfaces of both the Newport and Balboa piers, as
well as street light replacements on the boardwalk and an overhaul of the
Corona del Mar State Beach concession area.
State Atty. Gen. Bill Lockyer this week approved the distribution of
about $11.6 million from a 1999 court settlement stemming from the 1990
incident off the Huntington Beach coast -- the worst spill in Orange
More than 400,000 gallons of crude oil spread along a 20-mile stretch of
the coast, closing beaches for weeks, costing millions in cleanup efforts
and killing at least 1,000 birds.
The bulk of the money came from the settlement with Attransco, the owner
of the oil tanker, and it will be spent by the agencies affected by the
Aside from Newport and Huntington Beach, they are the state Department of
Parks and Recreation, the state Department of Fish and Game, the state
Lands Commission and Orange County.
Councilwoman Jan Debay, the Newport Beach representative in the
settlement committee, said she is glad the process of distributing the
funds is complete.
"It's been a long 10-year process ... and believe me, it took a lot of
patience, but I was very pleased with the way the agencies worked
together," Debay said.
Newport Beach's share of the money will go toward 10 projects that have
been approved by a committee of people from each agency that has met on
the issue for several months.
While most of the projects deal with maintenance of existing public
facilities on or near the beaches, about $750,000 of the settlement
proceeds will help kick-start a new marine educational facility proposed
for Shellmaker Island.
Deputy City Manager Dave Kiff said the project is in the design stage
now, but will eventually become a hands-on laboratory and classroom for
students, educators, residents and visitors to Upper Newport Bay.
"It will teach them things they can do at home to keep the bay clean, as
in limiting urban runoff," Kiff said. "It will also focus on getting to
know the critters in the bay, as well as those critters that inhabit the
The goal is to teach people -- young and old -- about the fragile
environment without harming it by tramping all over it. That is also the
objective of a million-dollar county interpretive center being built in
the Back Bay, but that facility focuses more on the wildlife in the
ecological reserve, Kiff said.
"This one is more of a water quality experience," he added.
The marine facility could cost about $3 million, and Kiff said officials
hope to obtain the rest of the money through sponsorships, the state and
through the water-quality bond approved by voters last month, Proposition
But the oil spill money, plus the donation from Corona del Mar architect
Ron Yeo to do the design work for free, gave the effort the needed push.
"It gets us going far enough where it becomes credible project instead of
pipe dream," Kiff said.