Waterfront park drive advances

February 1, 2006

A ceremony to celebrate the transfer of a property deed for the long-awaited waterfront park will take place on Monday.

And, just two days later, the three conceptual designs for the park will be unveiled for public review.

Christine Knowles, co-chair of the Park Development Committee (PDC), is excited about both events. She said everything is starting to come together for park development, including the formation of a new fund-raising group.

“We really hope to get the community behind this project because it’s going to be a good place for families,” said Knowles.

On Monday, the Port of Hood River will hand the City of Hood River the deed to Lot 6, a six-acre parcel along the Columbia River. The property transfer will take place at 10:30 a.m. either at the park or, if raining, in the atrium of the Expo Center. The port already legally turned the parcel valued at $1.7 million over to the city on Jan. 19. However, Knowles said both agencies wanted to have an official ceremony to mark the historical moment.

The details of the three potential park designs are being kept under wraps until Wednesday’s open house. The design team from GreenWorks, Inc., will reveal their interpretations of the PDC “vision” for the green space from 7 to 9 p.m. in the ballroom of the Hood River Hotel, 106 Oak Street. Knowles said the consultants, paid $22,000 for their work by the Hood River Valley Parks and Recreation District, have attempted to incorporate the PDC’s primary goals into the maps.

The same presentation will take place from 7 to 9 p.m. on Feb. 9 in the library of Wy’east Middle School in Odell, 3000 Wy’east Road.

Knowles said all three designs have commonalities, such as some type of swimming beach, an amphitheatre, play area and vegetation that serves as a wind block.

However, she said each drawing has distinct differences in the placement of the amenities. For example, one curving beach has a gravel island and another is more linear to better delineate uses.

The PDC and GreenWorks want the community to tell them which features they like and which they want to eliminate. Individuals attending one of the two forums will be provided with an opportunity to give both written and verbal comments.

Once GreenWorks has compiled those remarks, a preferred park design will be drafted. That rendering will be displayed from 7 to 9 p.m. on March 16 at the Hood River Hotel.

“Obviously, the final plan probably won’t look like any one of the first drawings. It will most likely combine elements of all of them,” said Knowles.

Meanwhile, she said a new non-profit organization is already raising money for park development. In December, the Waterfront Community Park Association (WCPA) held a Holiday Splash at Three Rivers Grill that netted $7,200 in donations. That money has been added to the $225,000 contributed so far in cash, pledges or in-kind services.

The WCPA officers include co-chairs Ann Frodel, also a city councilor, and Marianne Brevard. Ellen Shapley has taken on the duties of treasurer and Susan Crowley serves as secretary.

“Their mission is outreach and fund-raising, ours is to get the technical details worked out,” said Knowles.

She said park construction could cost $3-$4 million with the creation of a new beach. Although either figure seems daunting, Knowles said there are two big grant possibilities on the horizon. And the work can be done in phases if necessary.

With a property deed in hand and an active money drive underway, Knowles believes the park is in good standing to score up to $500,000 in Oregon Parks funds this year. When the city applied on behalf of the PDC last year, she said the project was just taking shape and was aced out by other ventures that had been on the state’s list much longer.

In addition, the Columbia River Gorge Commission will request that Congress turn over $2 million this year in funds allocated to create recreational opportunities under the Scenic Act. Knowles said that money would be divided among Hood River, The Dalles and Stevenson, Wash.

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