State vetoes park funding

City manager says funding for next year is more probable

August 13, 2005

Hood River has lost out on its bid for $500,000 in state funds to develop a waterfront park.

Bob Francis, city manager, and Christine Knowles, cochair of the Park Development Committee (PDC) said this week’s bad news was disappointing. But they both remain hopeful about next year’s chances. Knowles said the PDC is more likely to get its request approved by Oregon Parks the second time around. She said many of the proposed projects had been on the list much longer, and most successful ventures had already scored federal dollars.

“The state sort of said we were now in the queue and we’ll be in an even better position to get the money next year,” said Knowles.

“The community could look at this loss of funding as a big deterrent, or they could say, ‘We really want this park so let’s make it work,’” said Francis.

He has chosen to take a pro-active stance and has applied for two separate grants of $200,000 from the University of Portland and Pacific Power and Light. Francis’ enthusiasm grew on Thursday after he learned the Oregon Investment Board was going to turn over $10,000 for the project. Francis expects to know the fate of his other grant requests sometime this fall.

Even without that money, he and Knowles believe the longtime dream of a waterfront park could still become reality. They said citizens will just need to fill in the gaps by stepping forward to donate labor and money. Already thousands of in-kind services and cash contributions have been pledged. The PDC has compiled a “wish list” of equipment that residents are invited to sponsor. For example, an interactive spray park can be installed for $40,000, a picnic bench for $700, or even a shrub for $40.

The Port of Hood River has turned six acres of property along the Columbia River over to the city for a public park. The $1.4 million donation is tied to basic development standards, including restrooms, a children’s play area, group picnic facilities and landscaping.

The PDC wants the community to help design the final look of the park so that it serves as a year-round gathering place. Officials estimate it will cost about $1 million to turn the barren parcel known as Lot 6 into a multifaceted public recreation area.

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