Heights Urban Renewal on front burner

May 25, 2011

A potential new look for the Heights is generating some excitement among business owners.

Pocket parks, landscaped sidewalks, revitalized façades and connections to hiking trails are all possible.

Hood River Heights Business Association members were briefed on an upcoming proposal to establish a new Urban Renewal district on the Heights in Hood River.

The guest speaker at the May 19 HBA meeting was City of Hood River advisor Elaine Howard, Urban Renewal project consultant.

Howard provided the group with an overview of how UR agencies operate and summarized the soon to be presented UR Plan and Report, now being finalized by City Manager Bob Francis.

The proposed area to be incorporated into the Heights UR Plan encompasses the business zone extending from Brookside Drive down 12th and 13th streets to the intersection with Oak Street.

Two upcoming meetings remain in the public process prior to adoption of the Heights UR district.

June 20, the Hood River City Planning Commission will review the UR Plan and report and make recommendations at 5:30 p.m.

On July 11 at 6 p.m., the city council will take up the plan as an open public hearing, allowing for public comment prior to voting.

The currently identified Heights UR projects include: storm water and sewer improvements, water line upgrades, parking improvements, land acquisition, streetscape improvements, possible pocket parks and green space.

A business assistance (loan) program will also be established with UR funds for façade improvements and other business upgrades.

Over a 20-year period, the UR district will collect approximately $8.5 million in funds to be used toward identified projects.

If a revised capital improvements plan is adopted by the city council, the city may provide additional funding toward designated Heights UR projects.

If passed, shared taxing districts within the proposed Heights UR Plan Area would forgo potential tax revenues equating to $8.5 million over the 20-year period.

Contrary to popular belief, no new taxes are imposed to fund urban renewal.

Once a UR district is established, the tax valuation for the district is "frozen" - maintaining existing tax level support for shared taxing entities.

As properties appreciate in value, the increase in taxes - the "increment" generated above the established "frozen" base - is used to pay for debt on specific projects within the UR Plan Area.

Taxing districts that will be affected by the new Heights UR district include: Hood River County General fund, 9-1-1, City of Hood River, Port of Hood River, Hood River Parks and Recreation, Hood River Transportation District, Columbia Gorge Community College, Hood River County School District and Columbia Gorge Educational Service District.

Tax districts affected by tax sharing often support UR projects, which generally increase property values and improve both economic activity and infrastructure within the zones.

More information on the proposed Heights Urban Renewal Plan Area and upcoming related planning meetings may be obtained from Hood River City Manager Bob Francis at BobF@ci.hood-river.or.us or by calling the city offices at 541-386-1488.

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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

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