CANNON BEACH - During the regular meeting of the Cannon Beach City Council Tuesday, city leaders heard a presentation about "the Rock."

Lisa Sheffield, of the Haystack Rock Awareness Program (HRAP), presented the year-end numbers to the council.

"This was our busiest season on record," said Sheffield. The year also yielded the most days on the beach, contacts with the public, number of visitors on the beach and number of groups who visited Haystack Rock.

According to Sheffield's information, HRAP spent 191 days on the beach between March and early September and logged 73,879 staff interactions with the public throughout the course of the season. Sheffield said that staff interactions were counted by small counters in the pockets of each staff member.

"Every time they talk to someone, they click it," said Sheffield.

The highest hourly count for visitor contacts was 329 and the marine garden at Haystack Rock had a total of 47,325 visitors this year.

Sheffield shared some puzzling statistics with the council as well. The number of animals removed from Haystack Rock was down, with 405 animals confiscated and returned to their habitat, but the number of animals harassed this year, 714, was the highest ever recorded.

"If anyone has any ideas about that, please let me know," said Sheffield, who characterized harassment as intentional poking, prodding, licking and other activities that disturb the Haystack Rock wildlife.

"Licking?" said council member Jerome Arnold.

"Yes," said Sheffield. "People like to lick the sea anemones."

Sheffield concluded her presentation with a few notes about next year's HRAP plans. The program was awarded a grant for an amount unspecified during the meeting and those funds will be applied toward the purchase of new signs, interpretive panels, panels for the mobile unit, a new spotting scope, binoculars, a digital camera and an AmeriCorps staff member for one year.

In other council news:

- Renee Sinclair, director of finance, spoke to the council about the implementation of a new telecommunications system for all city facilities.

Sinclair said that as the result of complaints, an ad hoc committee was formed by City Manager Rich Mays to try to find a solution to the inadequate phone system currently in place at Cannon Beach City Hall.

According to a Qwest assessment of the city's systems, the city is not using the system in place very efficiently, ongoing problems with voicemail were reported and much of the city's equipment is failing and outdated.

"Right now, we need to move forward with the purchase of new equipment," said Sinclair.

She said once the system was installed, staff member would be issued their own telephone number but that the current city hall phone number, (503) 436-1581, would remain in place as the general line for residents to call.

"We will retain a 'live operator' to connect callers," said Sinclair. She also said that an analog phone line would be maintained should the city have need of it.

The staff recommendation of moving forward with the new system installation was passed by the council.

The council revisited the creation of a farmer's market in Cannon Beach with Mays giving an update on the committee's progress.

"I want to emphasize this has always been, first and foremost, for Cannon Beach residents," said Mays.

The committee has decided, with the help of Chief of Police Gene Halliburton, that 17 spaces in the northeast corner of the city's parking lot will be the location of the farmer's market.

Mays told the council, the committee felt it would be necessary to receive an annual subsidy of $6,000 for the farmer's market for the first two years to cover advertising, the potential payment of a market manager and other costs associated with starting the market. "We feel very strongly that there needs to be one person in charge," said Mays. He said that person may have to be paid for their time and efforts with the market.

Mays also alerted the council to the need for a specific change in the city ordinance that deals with outdoor merchandising to allow market vendors to sell their wares outdoors.

Bob Neroni, of EVOO and a committee member, told the council he had tried to keep his list for vendor recruitment within a 90-mile radius of Cannon Beach and within the State of Oregon.

"Right now there are over 300 members of the Chef-Farm Collaborative in Oregon," said Neroni.

Council member Jay Raskin asked about the inclusion of Pacific County, in Washington.

"Often we have more similarities to people in Pacific County than to people in the valley," said Raskin.

For now, the committee is continuing to focus its efforts upon the recruitment of Oregon vendors.

The discussion concluded with a commitment being made that at the January meeting of the council a formal decision would be made about whether to establish the farmer's market and to fine-tune the details of the market.

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