Public can weigh in on Lower Castaways

The future of the last parcel available for development along Newport Harbor is up for discussion next week.

A study session is planned for 4:30 p.m. March 13 in the old Council Chambers, 3300 Newport Blvd.

The public is invited to offer ideas for new uses of the 4-acre property at the northeast corner of Dover Drive and Coast Highway in the Lower Castaways neighborhood. A three-member subcommittee of the Harbor Commission is charged with examining the future of the site.

"The city wants to ensure that they're thoughtful and deliberate about how they approach this," said Harbor Commissioner Dave Girling.

The Irvine Co. deeded the land to the city in 2008, Girling said.

It was used as a staging area during recent Newport Harbor dredging work. Now it houses trailers and other equipment for the California Recreation Co., a subsidiary of the Newport Beach-based Irvine Co.

Possible uses for the site include a dock for personal watercraft, such as a kayaks. A snack or ice cream stand could also locate there.

In the 1950s and '60s, the parcel was home to a Wil Wright's, a Southern California ice cream chain, according to the Newport Beach Historical Society.

After much debate and scaling down, in 1992 the Castaways Marina, with an estimated $7 million building cost and 71 slips, was destined for the site, according to the Los Angeles Times.

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