Superstore goes ‘rustic’

Wal-Mart designers add ‘brick tint’ to final plans for new store

Wal-Mart is ready to begin the public review process of its “rustic” plans for a supercenter at the junction of Frankton and Country Club roads.

On Friday, the national company turned new architectural drawings over to the Hood River County Planning Department. In those renderings, Wal-Mart seeks to show that the “mass” of the 185,000-square-foot store can blend well with the surrounding landscape. The retail giant has submitted paint samples of tan, rust, light brown and green. In addition, the metal roofing is also proposed to be a brick tint and the upper facade of both entrances will have wooden gables and a shingled-look.

“With effective landscaping, screening and muted earth tone colors, the building can be a discreet presence in this viewscape,” wrote Architects BCRA Tsang in a written narrative that accompanied the design work.

In an attempt to prove that statement, the Tacoma, Wash., firm hired by Wal-Mart to draft the plans provided “before and after” views of the proposed store. Architects took photographs of the existing 16 acre parcel and then superimposed a computer image of the new store onto the scene. In those pictures, which both portray new plantings and mature vegetation growth, the proposed Wal-Mart is barely visible from the upper parking lot of the Columbia Gorge Hotel and along Interstate 84.

Although the architectural firm has worked to address the central argument over “compatibility,” they are also reminding county officials that the proposed site is already zoned for a commercial use — and can’t be compared to neighboring residential properties of a much smaller size.

Mike Benedict, county planning director, said his staff will spend the next month evaluating the new plans. Last fall, Benedict recommended that Wal-Mart’s building application be denied because it failed to meet six key criteria.

These issues included not only the scale of the structure, but traffic flows, protection of riparian areas and potential flooding from paved areas. Benedict said it is too early to determine whether these problems have been adequately addressed.

Once planners have completed their scrutiny, Benedict said a recommendation for approval or denial of the updated plans will be crafted and presented to the County Planning Commission on June 25.

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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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