Kiters ask for temporary use of beach

By SUE RYAN

News staff writer

June 10, 2006

Two kiteboarders asked Port of Hood River commissioners Tuesday night to temporarily lift the ban on kiteboarding at Marina Beach.

Hood River resident Stephen Ford said he moved to the area last year and started kiteboarding 10 days ago.

“As a beginning kiter, it is hard to launch from the other site (off the Hook),” he said. “I’m just asking for two, three, four weeks until the water goes down.”

While Ford referred to a group of kiteboarders having the same concerns, he came alone. Middle school wind sports teacher Eric Cohn wrote in an e-mail to the commission that he felt the marina beach was underused at this time of year.

“I think it noteworthy that this time of year the marina beach is very lightly used, as both the weather and water are not yet warm, and kiters are looking for wind, not calm,” he said. “ The current situation of a nonexistent sand spit coupled with a very safe vacant launch site 200 feet upriver at the marina beach is very frustrating indeed.”

The commissioners said kiteboarders might want to consider reactivating the Kiteboard Association.

“I would say, have the sailboard and kite groups get together and have cooler heads prevail,” said Don Hosford.

Commissioner Fred Duckwall said it would be helpful to have an association to address rather than individuals. He stressed, though, that the current rules remain in place and that there have been some communication problems.

“The problem has been with staff going down and asking people not to use it (the beach) and kiters being confrontational over the issue,” he said.

Commissioner Hoby Streich asked Ford what would happen after the three-week period. Ford replied he thought peer pressure would have the kiters respect going back to the Spit after the water level went down. Commissioner Kathy Watson recommended that the commission ask the waterfront recreation committee to come together next week and discuss a solution.

“But safety first,” she said. “Within that framework would be safety and other people using it … balancing all the needs at the waterfront, not just wind sports.”

No meeting has been set yet. In other business, the commissioners discussed the unresolved issue of installing a cardlock pump at the airport, and a request by a Willow Valley Drive resident to take care of some sewer line issues that had developed. They also:

Adopted the 2006-07 budget in the amount of $20,648,609. The budget is comprised of the $354,552 general fund, $14,804,394 PHR revenue fund, and the $5,489,663 bridge repair and replacement fund.

Passed a resolution to apply for a Transportation Enhancement Grant from ODOT for developing a public bicycle and pedestrian system on waterfront property.

Approved the sale of Lot 3 in the John Weber Business Park at Odell to Brian Prigel for $60,000.

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