City Council agrees to tree trimming

The Hood River City Council went out on a limb on March 25 to save the historical Roe-Parker house from demolition.

By a vote of 3-1 (Councilors Carrie Nelson and Linda Rouches were absent), city leaders gave permission to allow the vintage home to be moved intact, which necessitates the removal of three trees within the city right-of-way. It also requires the severe pruning of the old maple near the corner of Sixth and State streets, a proposal that has drawn several citizen protests.

"I'm not in favor of removing the trees, the house can be cut apart and it can be moved in pieces," said Councilor Andrea Klaas, who cast the sole dissenting vote.

However, Stephen Datnoff, who made the only bid of $27,000 for the turn-of-the century home, had previously informed city officials that he was already planning to spend $55,000 just to relocate the house. He said it would cost more than it was worth to take the dwelling apart and then repair that damage.

Datnoff faced objections over his proposal that the city allow the top half of the State Street maple to be chopped off so that the cable lines running through its branches could be lowered to the ground. By driving the house over the lines, Datnoff said he could save the $8,200 cost for their cutting and resplicing.

The city council had tabled the issue at its March 11 meeting to find out whether Sprint would absorb the cost for the line handling. However, Lynn Guenther, city manager, learned that the expenses would actually be closer to $22,000 since the lines were not fiber optic as Datnoff had first believed, but actually contained 200-300 individual cable pairs. Guenther said he was also informed by Sprint officials that the typical donation for community projects was $500 and the relocation of the home by a private party did not qualify.

After reviewing that new information, Councilor Chuck Haynie said he believed the price of losing the Queen Anne-style cottage forever was too high to save the tree from pruning. Haynie's decision was based, in part, on the expert opinion of an arborist that the tree would likely go into shock for several years but stood a good chance of recovering since it had previously been cut. He was joined in his stand by Mayor Paul Cummings and both Councilors Paul Thompson and Scott Reynier.

"I just don't think it balances out and I think we need to do what it takes to save the house," said Reynier.

However, the council conceded to Klaas request that a "mitigation" tree be planted next to the maple in case it didn't survive and that new trees be planted to replace the three species slated for removal. In addition, the city decided to amend its policy to allow limbing or removal of trees within its right-of-way if necessary for the relocation of historic buildings.

The Roe-Parker house is currently sitting on a lot that has been dedicated for a major expansion of the adjacent library. Datnoff plans to take the 1,400 square foot structure up 7th Street to a vacant lot behind his existing residence at 911 Montello Avenue. To accomplish that task he also is being allowed to limb up to 20 feet on seven trees along the route. Since renovation of the library is scheduled to begin in July, Datnoff said he welcomes any and all help to remove the fencing around the home and relocate the shrubbery during the spring planting season.

In other action on March 25, the city council decided to investigate the costs for hiring a public relations firm to help educate voters about the need for a $500,000 bond levy on the Nov. 5 General Election ballot.

Guenther said an outreach program would help citizens understand that the existing fleet of aging service equipment was becoming inoperable. He believed the two past failures to gain the special tax on property had failed largely because the city had failed to deliver that message.

City officials directed Guenther to gather more information and bring it before them for review at the April 25 regular meeting. At that time they will continue the debate about whether to move ahead with the proposal.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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