Worth the Wait

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(Remarks by Councilwoman Leslie Daigle at the ceremony marking the completion of the Upper Bay dredging project:)

Getting the Upper Bay dredging done has been one of my highest priorities.

For some time, I have viewed the Back Bay as the heart of our community:

  • It feeds the glorious bay that defines what is extraordinary and special about Newport Beach.
  • It is critical to the natural environmental health of our city.
  • It is one of our greatest recreational assets.
  • And it is inextricably linked to our water-based economy.
  • It cools us, soothes us, beckons us, and gives us relief from the surrounding urban activities of a thriving community.

We learn in life that every heart slows, and one of biggest dangers is the buildup of plaque, clogging the arteries, and ultimately leading to death.

Today we celebrate a successful operation to clear the arteries, give the heart of our community new vitality, and extend its life for decades.

The beneficiaries are very real:

  • The migratory birds and fish who love Newport Beach as much as any tourist, and who need it even more for their survival.
  • Our fellow citizens who walk, jog, bike, fish, kayak and canoe here.
  • Our Coastkeepers and Naturalists who keep constant watch over our bay.
  • Our residents who have been drawn to life surrounding this bay, just as Native Americans were first drawn to the cliffs around us more than 11,000 years ago  – long before there was a Fashion Island to divert attention.
  • And our small business entrepreneurs whose investments have given us new, and exciting ways to enjoy the bay.

So I would simply say this is a very big deal for all of us: a significant investment in the long-term quality of life of this area and so much more than just a costly, ambitious public works project.

At a time when there is a national debate about the proper role of government in our lives, this project is the poster child for the wise and proper use of precious taxpayer dollars.

By that, I mean it is a project of local, regional, state and even federal interest and significance. And it is a project involving navigable and environmentally sensitive waters that is the primary responsibility of government to undertake.

It is as important as any infrastructure project we could ask our governmental entities to undertake for the long-term benefit of this city and this region.

There are many people whose help and leadership have brought us to this happy day.  I will only single out three individuals and two organizations, who I believe have played critical roles that cannot be denied, underestimated, or overstated:

  • Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who put her reputation, determination and influence behind this project for all the right reasons.
  • Rep. Ed Royce, from upstream, who supports watershed solutions. He authored the House legislation to enable the restoration.
  • Our city manager, David Kiff, who made it one of our city’s highest priorities, and helped organize and lead the effort.
  • The Army Corps of Engineers, who play such an important, but often unheralded role in large-scale projects of this nature.
  • And the Irvine Co. – which has done so much to protect, enhance and define our quality of life – for its guidance and advice throughout.

I hope I fairly represent the deep appreciation felt by my City Council colleagues – past and present – who have waited so long for this special day.



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