Nichols Basin cable park one step closer to reality

October 30, 2011

The Port of Hood River Waterfront Recreation Committee voted last week to officially support a proposed cable park within the former Nichols Boat Basin.

Although only an advisory committee to the Port Board of Commissioners, the recommendation is a significant step for Naito Development, owners of the property at the south end of the basin. Naito is planning to start construction on an 88-room hotel on the lot next spring, and as an anchor to its development plans, the Portland-based LLC is working through the approval process to create a cable park within the basin.

Cable parks - popular throughout Europe and gaining traction in the U.S. - use a simple system of cables and pulleys around the perimeter of a calm body of water. Powered by a small electric motor, the cable runs in circles, with tow handles dangling down to about arm's reach from the water. Using wakeboards or water skis, people hold on to the handles and are towed across the water at a speed of about 20 mph.

It's like wakeboarding without a boat, and the angle of pull from the cable gives riders the potential for high-flying jumps and technical tricks.

"I'd say it's a significant step," said Michael McElwee, Port of Hood River executive director. "The (waterfront recreation) committee's recommendation has significant value to the commission. The committee represents various user groups, and it includes two members of the port's board of commissioners."

Jon Davies, President of the Port Board of Commissioners, and Rich McBride, Port Commission Secretary, are currently on the WRC.

McBride, who chairs the WRC, listed a few requests the committee had in its recommendation. The requests were not conditions of the recommendation, but items the group thought were important to consider.

A cable park would mean exclusive use of a section of the basin. For safety purposes, while the cable park was operating, other users like kayakers and standup paddlers would be restricted from the area by a buoy line.

Exclusive use of the basin was the major concern the WRC had in the project. The committee recommended the design of the cable park be changed to allow for a path of open water along the entire west flank of the basin. The water path would allow other users to travel north to south in the entire basin, would accommodate the needs of an existing kayak instruction business situated in that area and would likely be good for business by allowing up-close viewing of the cable park.

The WRC's show of support is one of several hurdles Naito will have to clear for the project to break ground. Impact studies and permitting will likely take several months and, although father-son developers Bob and Will Naito express optimism, there's no guarantee in-water work will be approved.

"I think one concern people have is the impact a cable park would have," Will Naito said to the commission. "It's pretty inconspicuous visually, and the pylons and cables would not be driven into the basin floor."

Naito explained that the northern in-water supports for the cable system would be mounted onto steel plates which would sit on the ground underwater. The electric motor to operate the system, he said, is about the size of a Prius motor, and is as quite as a human conversation.

In a presentation to the port commission last month, the two said that if a cable park is not included in the development, financing for the entire project could fall through and the hotel project would not proceed on the current schedule.

If everything goes as they would like, construction on the hotel, a commercial building and the cable park will start in the spring of 2012 and be completed in about a year.

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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 to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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