Port should place a park on Hood River waterfront

Another Voice

By LAURIE BALMUTH

Special to the News

I have been following the waterfront issue fairly closely and have attended several City Council meetings and several Port of Hood River meetings and work sessions.

Over the past months I learned that Hood River residents have for many years consistently made the case for a park extending the length of the waterfront and that this is a matter of public record. Hood River Parks and Recreation did a study and one of the top, if not the top desires, of the public is a waterfront park, and, the Parks and Recreation Department has the funds available to construct and maintain it. It has been noted that virtually all cities with a waterfront capitalize on it by constructing parks there, sometimes at the cost of demolishing freeways and structures in order to do so.

It makes sense that a beautiful public waterfront area adds greatly to the value of land adjacent, preserves views and property values in the town and promotes tourism. I also learned at City Council that $70 million — that’s seventy million dollars — income from tourism came in to Hood River last year.

However, the Port of Hood River owns most of the land in the waterfront area and is intent on selling it to the highest bidder in order to fund projects in Odell and other parts of the Hood River County. The Port halted the implementation of a well-considered waterfront plan in order to have “more studies.” They have hired consultants to produce plans for elaborate and costly parks and then argue that we cannot afford them.

Two weeks ago a citizen group filed an initiative calling for park dedication along the waterfront. The City Attorney blocked it. Last week the City terminated the open Waterfront Planning process with no clear proposal for retaining any of the extensive work and hearing record that had been accumulated. Later the Port announced that it was going forward with a request for developers to submit proposals for construction on the waterfront.

I am not sure that the City of Hood River fully understands that the Port of Hood River’s interests are in many ways adverse to the City’s. The Port of Hood River is not interested in preserving views and property values of our town. The importance of the waterfront to the economy of Hood River is, I believe, somewhat irritating to the Port. It is because of the Port’s historic and continuing obtuseness and mismanagement of the waterfront that it obtains little of the $70 million in tourism dollars. It is after all the windsurfing and adventure sports community that has purchased and improved both private homes and businesses here making what was nearly a ghost town in the mid-1980s into a thriving and highly desirable place to live.

The Port is clearly trying to “cash in” in a most destructive way. I would hope that the City put a stop to this and create the waterfront park that is wanted. There is PLENTY of land on the south side of Port Way and to the west of the esplanade that can be developed. The value of this land and the value of the land in town will be greatly enhanced by a waterfront park.

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Laurie Balmuth lives in Hood River.

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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 www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge



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