GEARHART - City Administrator Dennis McNally has a conundrum: How can he test Gearhart's emergency sirens without scaring off Seaside tourists?
He told the Gearhart City Council Wednesday night that he believes the city's emergency warning system should be tested more than once a year - possibly every month or, even every week, as city officials used to do .
But the system is designed as an "overlay" with Seaside, so when the two Gearhart sirens go off, Seaside's will go off, too "so the whole beach is covered," McNally said.
"When we do ours, they're going to hear it in Seaside," he added.
However, the city of Seaside tests its siren system only once a year, after warning its residents and businesses. Even when that occurs, McNally said, the police dispatch phones light up, and tourists are alarmed.
"We need to work with our neighbors; they do our dispatch," McNally said. "We can do it (the tests) ourselves, but we need to do it nicely."
The City Council agreed that tests are needed more often.
"We should proceed, but we need to keep Seaside in the loop," said Councilor Albert Carder.
Councilor Dianne Widdop, who works in stores in Gearhart and Seaside, said tourists have told her they appreciate the tests.
"They will ask what is that and we tell them it's a test and that they should get to higher ground (in a real emergency)."
The tests "open a dialogue" with residents and tourists, Councilor Chuck Mattocks noted. "It's a constant safety reminder."
Widdop agreed that the tests should be done more often.
"By doing them on a regular basis, they will point out areas where they cannot be heard. Those are the places we should address first."
In other business, the council:
? Approved a resolution repealing the annexation of the Highlands and Palisades subdivisions to the city. Although the council had approved the annexation last fall, city voters turned it down in a special election last month.
? Learned that letters are being sent to owners of properties where noxious weeds are growing. The letters ask that the weeds be kept under control. If there is no response, a lien may be filed against the property.
? Was told that a local wetland inventory is nearly complete. This will allow new maps to be produced with overlays showing wetlands, zoning, waterlines and other aspects of Gearhart properties.
? Learned that the next phase of the city water system - construction of water treatment facilities - will go to bid on April 28. The bids will be opened in late May.
? Heard that 45 resumes have been submitted for a city police officer's position. Of those, the top 10 will be sent a 26-page application. Following background checks, the candidates will be interviewed.
? Learned that two new vehicle speed indicators installed on Pacific Way near the Gearhart Elementary School are effectively slowing down traffic. The solar-powered signs have been up for a week, McNally said, and when cars head down Pacific and reach the indicators, "all you see are brake lights." The school zone calls for a 20 mph speed.
?Approved a request to hold the annual Gearhart Fireman's Ball May 29.