30-acre park will replace old orchard

When a big orchard is pulled out anywhere in the county, tongues begin to wag on the reasons prompting the removal.

If you’ve seen the bulldozers and grinders at work on the parcel near the northwest corner of Barrett and Alameda, then you too may be wondering.

The good news is that tree clearing on this 30-acre lot is the first step in the Hood River Parks and Recreation District’s long-term plan to create a new community park with sports fields and an extension to the existing Indian Creek Trail.

In addition to much-needed ball fields, potential uses for the land, according to Lori Stirn, director of HRPRD, include community gardens, community-supported agriculture, picnic shelters, playground equipment, additional walking and biking trails, passive recreation play areas, dog parks and other recreational options.

The land clearing has begun to meet requirements laid out as part of a HRPRD lottery-funded State Park Local Government Acquisition Grant obtained in Oct. 2007.

“A requirement of the grant is that all non-recreation uses on the property must be terminated within three years from the date of acquisition or the park district would have to locate and purchase another similar property or return the $325,800 grant funds,” said Stirn.

“In an effort to keep the property located at 4010 Barrett Drive and the grant funds, we are removing the 28-plus acres of fruit-bearing trees as well as terminating the lease with the current orchardist.”

Once removal is complete, HRPRD will back-fill the holes and provide rough grading and grass seeding at the site. Existing structures on the property will be left in place at this time.

Many additional steps remain before final land use approvals are obtained, but HRPRD is working closely with the Department of Land Conservation and Development and county planning staff to determine what is an allowable use on the currently EFU-zoned parcel.

“At this point we would like to begin to receive ideas from the community in an informal way about priorities for park needs and potential uses,” Stirn said. As the land use approval process formalizes, countywide community meetings will be held to obtain specific community input.

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