Barrett Park gets the green light

The Hood River County Planning Commission Wednesday night narrowly approved a conditional use permit application filed by Hood River Valley Parks and Recreation District to develop 31.4-acre park on property the district owns near the corner of Barrett Drive and Alameda Road.

A chief issue of the proposed park — and one that nearly derailed the entire project — is the high-value farmland, zoned Exclusive Farm Use, it will replace. In a 4-3 vote, the commission decided that developing the park would not have a significant impact on agriculture in the county. A majority “yes” vote would have sent the proposed park to a screeching halt.

The vote was not for or against a park in the county, but rather it addressed the removal of 31.4 acres of productive orchard land for use as a park. The commissioners’ final vote affirmed that the action was appropriate and legal, and that the land could be returned to its original condition following the requirements within the CUP application.

Among the seven-person commission, Stan Bensen, Carl Perron, Kathie Alley and John Brennan voted that no, the park would not have a significant impact, while “yes” votes came from commissioners Pat Moore, Peter Frothingham and chair Bob Schuppe.

In the nearly five-hour meeting, the commission heard public testimony from a variety of community members, both in favor of and against the development. Supporters, ranging from representatives of mountain bike, radio flier and Special Olympics groups to a high school teacher, health department director and an impassioned dog owner, asked the commission to approve the proposal due to the innumerable public health and community benefits it would have.

Of the two residents who testified against the development, comments were directed not at the need or merits of the park, but at its impact on neighbors, and the choice to develop it on high-value farmland.

Now that the CUP has been approved, County Planning Department staff will finalize wording on a number of conditions of approval within the permit application, which the commission will then vote on.

Of significant interest at the meeting were conditions staff recommended on a few key items of the application. The commission approved a mountain bike skills track and bocce ball courts, which staff had originally recommended against. The commission also agreed to give HRVPRD oversight to create a reservation and fee system for picnic shelters if the need arises, rather than limiting the district to a strictly first-come, first-served system.

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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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