Monday, August 1, 2011
A long-stalled plan to reroute Country Club Road could go ahead as soon as next spring pending a public notice and approval by the Hood River City Council Aug. 8.
The plan calls for the abandonment of the failing intersection of Country Club and Cascade, curving the road to run parallel south of Cascade Avenue where it will intersect with a new road, Mt. Adams Street. Mt. Adams will then intersect with Cascade.
The arrangement was originally proposed as a failed initiative by Walmart to build a superstore in the area several years ago. It was revived last month when Jeff Pickhardt, president of Bend-based Key Development Corporation, approached the city and offered to complete the project.
ODOT had set aside $3 million for the project to go along with $500,000 by the city. ODOT had originally estimated that the project would cost $5.8 million through a competitive building process.
However Key Development offered to complete the project for a cost of between $4-5 million.
According to Hood River City Manager Bob Francis, Key Development has agreed to cover any costs above the $3.5 million dedicated by ODOT and the city.
"This is the best chance we'll have to redevelop Country Club Road," Francis said. "All the prior people who have been interested in it backed out."
To allow Key to move forward with the project, the city has to submit a public notice to exempt them from the competitive bidding process. The public bidding exemption passed muster with Hood River City Attorney Dan Kearns at a city council meeting earlier this month. The Hood River City Council authorized the city to move forward on the exemption at that meeting. Once the public notice has been posted for 14 days it will receive a public hearing and the agreement between the city and Key Development will be voted on at the Aug. 8 council meeting.
To keep the ODOT funds, which were transferred from the Button Junction project, the road needs to be finished by Dec. 31, 2013.
Mayor Arthur Babitz was overjoyed at the prospect of getting the road done - a process that has been in the works since 2004, and at no further cost to the city.
"This is great for the residents of the city because usually a developer asks for more public money" to cover overruns, he said. "We are getting needed road work done on a pretty short time frame."
Key did get public funds - just not additional ones - and Pickhardt said that doing the needed upgrades to Country Club required for development work would have been "a lot more difficult."
"This started a while ago when we had discussions with ODOT over Country Club Road and they said there may be some funds available," Pickhardt said. "Without the public funds the feasibility becomes much harder."
Pickhardt was not concerned with a quick timeline because it is also in Key's best interests to have a road completed as soon as possible.
It is working on developing property near what would be the reroute of Country Club road, and it currently lacks substantial access. The property owner cannot move ahead with developments until a road is completed.
While both sides have an interest in getting a road completed, the agreement between Key and the city does not contain any promises that future development will be allowed off the road.
"There are no future promises," Pickhardt said.
Once the road is completed, the abandoned stretch of Country Club may be kept open as a pedestrian or bike path.
The easements for the project were originally purchased by Walmart for its superstore in 2004, but after the project was denied plans for redeveloping the road stalled out.
However, after years of nothing getting moving, Pickhardt's proposal has things on the fast track.
"From a timing perspective we were hopeful we could get it done faster … the city is taxed with a high workload," Pickhardt said.
He added that if the plan is approved they intend to do design work in the winter and then begin construction in the spring.
Francis was happy that things finally appear to moving on the project.
"If the council approves," he said. "We will be on our way."
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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"
Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge