CAST, Columbia Gallery must seek new space

Two long-standing Hood River cultural organizations are facing an uncertain future. The Columbia Art Gallery’s lease at 207 Second St. ran out earlier this month and the city, which owns the property, has notified the gallery’s board that the lease will not be renewed.

The CAST Performing Arts Center is facing similar homelessness at the end of the year. The building on 4th St., between Oak and Cascade, where CAST has been for 10 years was recently sold. The new owner, Mark Montanez, who owns The Crazy Pepper Cantina located in the same building, has given the community theatre until Dec. 31 to relocate.

CAST had enjoyed a “sweetheart” deal in the building, paying only minimal rent, dating to when the late Butch Ogawa owned it. Montanez has told the CAST board that he must try to rent the space at fair market value in order to cover his costs. CAST, a non-profit organization, can’t afford the estimated $33,000 in annual rent that the space would likely go for, said board member Tom Penchoen.

The gallery has enjoyed a similar reduced rent situation from the city for the past 15 years. During that time, the gallery has spent an estimated $75,000 on remodeling and upgrades to the space, according to board member Bill Sturman.

The gallery has informally been given six months to vacate the space, Sturman said. According to him , City Manager Lynn Guenther told the gallery board that the space was going to be used to expand the police station, which is housed upstairs. Guenther was unavailable for comment.

The two cultural organizations banded together last week when they learned that the American Legion Hall building at 3rd and Cascade streets was going to be sold. Representatives from the board of directors of both organizations put together a purchase proposal and presented it, along with earnest money, to the American Legion board last week. If the Legion accepts their offer, the two entities envision creating a community cultural center in the building, which could house the gallery and the theatre as well as provide space for classes, workshops and readings.

“The appeal of that building to us is that it’s the only one to meet both our needs,” Sturman said. Gallery board members feel the gallery needs to be located on street level and within the downtown core. For CAST, the Legion building represents one of the only downtown buildings with ceilings high enough to accommodate a theatre, according to Penchoen.

The gallery has an endowment fund that could be used to help purchase the building.

“The funds are available” for a serious offer, Sturman said. Donations and grants would be necessary to offset costs, especially since extensive renovation of the building would be required.

The Legion board plans to make a decision on the proposal in the next couple of weeks, and is also entertaining proposals from real estate agents interested in listing the building.

“We need to have a Plan B,” Penchoen said. “But we have the same hope as the gallery that people in the community will say, ‘Yes, it’s time for us to have a home for these two institutions.’”

Latest stories

Latest video:

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

Log in to comment

News from our Community Partners