Preferred park scheme showcases shore setting

By RAELYNN RICARTE

News staff writer

March 18, 2006

Blending recreational uses into a naturalized setting was the challenge faced by the designers of a “world-class” waterfront park.

“The final imagery is intended to be cascading in nature,” explained architect Frank Rudloff when the plan was publicly revealed on Thursday.

Christine Knowles, co-chair of the Park Development Committee, believes the GreenWorks, Inc., team has more than succeeded at that task.

She is well pleased with the final schematic that was crafted by the Portland firm from public comments taken during two meetings and via a survey.

“I’m really excited that GreenWorks has done such a good job of listening to people,” said Knowles. “Our challenge now is phasing it so that we can fund it.”

An active fund-raising campaign is now underway for the project that is expected to cost about $4 million. Knowles said the PDC and City of Hood River, which owns the six acres of park property known as Lot 6, will also soon submit a state grant request for $500,000.

The family park envisioned by the PDC and involved community members calls for an undulating shoreline with an inset beach on a gradual slope. The 18-foot differential in elevation accommodates a grassy terraced amphitheatre to the west with interspersed seat walls.

Designer Michelle Guthrie said the intent was to create an informal environment that could comfortably seat 1,500 people — or provide picnic space for two.

North of the amphitheatre is a viewing area over the Columbia River that closely resembles historical Native American fishing platform. On the water of the cove floats a dock to provide a diversion for swimmers.

Most of the east end of the park is dedicated to an open field of about 300 feet across for model airplane flying, soccer and other sports.

The main entry into the park from 66 parking spaces along Portway Avenue is highlighted by a piece of art that measures wind power. Along the central path there is room for 40 vendors to set up wares during special events.

The play area located next to a restroom with translucent roofing also follows the natural theme. Children are provided with water, sand and climbing opportunities. Nearby, shade trees allow their guardians to remain comfortable while keeping a watchful eye.

The picnic shelter to the east of the beach allows a spectacular view of the Columbia for 30-50 people. The wide steps leading down to the water’s edge can also provide a perch for recreationists.

Not only is the park designed for human occupation, it is intended to create healthy habitat for passing fish runs on the Columbia River. Mike Abbate, principal designer from GreenWorks, said the beach creates a shallow habitat area that will be protected by riverfront planting of willow, dogwood and other native plants.

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