Budget focuses on West Newport's needs

With new park and infrastructure projects planned, the Balboa Peninsula may see an infusion of funds during the next fiscal year.

The largest chunk of Newport Beach's $57-million capital improvement budget is slated for that area, according to an analysis by the Daily Pilot.

Peninsula residents have complained for years that the city has neglected their part of town — the historical heart of Newport Beach — as the Irvine Co. developed Newport Coast, and cultural, commercial and governing institutions concentrated in Newport Center. Now, with core public works projects and new parks planned for West Newport, some people are satisfied to see the city turning its attention.

"We're clearly at a junction here where we need to focus on reinvestment of the west side of Newport Beach," said Mayor Mike Henn, who represents District 1, which includes the Peninsula.

If the City Council adopts the budget Tuesday, District 1 projects will consume $14.2 million, or 25%, of the capital improvement budget, among the seven council districts. District 1 also encompasses Lido Isle and the numbered streets up to 48th.

Some projects are large — like $9 million for the Marina Park development and $2.2 million for pavement rehabilitation on Bay Avenue — and some are small, such as $100,000 to replace the pumps and motors at the 16th Street water station.

Marina Park is a 10-acre project between 15th and 19th streets with a proposed community center, park and marina.

Residents say they need the attention.

"It can't be ignored or deferred any longer," said Denys Oberman, president of the activist group Concerned Citizens of Newport Beach.

She said the infrastructure was in "pretty dire straits," and that murky water sometimes flows from her faucet or sewage backs up.

Developed in the early 1900s, the Peninsula has some water pipes that are 80 years old, Henn said.

Various resident assessment districts have paid for the undergrounding of their utility lines, and the city decided to replace some of those old components, he said.

"The citizens of my district have been stepping up," he said, "and the city is pairing along with that because it's cost-efficient."

For a complete list of the projects, see the Capital Improvement Program budget on the city's website.

The area to receive the least funds is District 7, which includes Harbor View Homes, Spyglass and Newport Hills.

Councilman Keith Curry said his area has benefited from investment in recent years, like when the city built the Newport Coast Community Center.

"The infrastructure in my district is in very good shape and doesn't have many immediate needs," Curry said.

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