ANOTHER VOICE: Public best served by facts of Naito proposal

A rendering of the space the proposed cable park would take up in the Nichols boat basin.

Port of Hood River Image
A rendering of the space the proposed cable park would take up in the Nichols boat basin.

As the developer of the hotel and commercial project at the Nichols Boat Basin, I would like to respond to Leighton Hazlehurst’s letter- of Nov. 7 Mr. Leyton Hazlehurst listed five specific questions and stated that the answer to each question was a simple “no”. In each instance, he is incorrect. Here are his questions in bold with our responses.

(Editor’s note: a shorter version of Bob Naito’s response was published in the Nov. 14 print edition of Hood River News.)

Is the commercial building located out of the flood plain (a federal requirement)?

There is no federal requirement that the commercial building be located out of the flood plain.

“In accordance with the requirements of national policies on floodplain management, any nonresidential structure, such as the commercial building described in this EA, must be elevated above the 100-year floodplain or flood pool, or flood-proofed watertight to or above the 100-year flood level. This floodplain management criterion would be met by the commercial building project.”

Nichols Landing Environmental Assessment, SWCA Environmental Consultants, page 22

Has there been a thorough salmon habitat study (a federal requirement of the Endangered Species Act)?

SWCA, a national environmental consulting firm, has prepared two Biological Assessments and an Environmental Assessment of the Nichols Landing Project and cable park. These reports address potential impacts to salmon and other species protected by the ESA and have been submitted to state and federal agencies for review. Quoting from the section of the Biological Assessment report that deals with the ESA:

“These impacts (on salmonids) are likely to be discountable or insignificant; consequently, the effects determination for the project is ―not likely to adversely affect (NLAA) listed salmonid species and/or designated CH for the following ESUs or DPSs:

Chum salmon (Columbia River)

Coho salmon (Lower Columbia River)

Steelhead trout (Lower Columbia River)

Steelhead trout (Middle Columbia River)

Steelhead trout (Upper Columbia River)

Steelhead trout (Snake River)

Sockeye salmon (Snake River)

Chinook salmon (Lower Columbia River)

Chinook salmon (Upper Columbia River spring-run)

Chinook salmon (Snake River spring/summer-run)

Chinook salmon (Snake River fall-run)

Bull trout (Columbia River)

Any take associated with project construction activities is not likely to approach a level where direct, indirect, or cumulative effects would jeopardize the continued existence or recovery of ESA-listed salmonids.”

Nichols Landing Commercial Building Project Biological Assessment, SWCA Environmental Consultants, pages 24-25

Is there an acceptable storm water runoff plan (a federal requirement)?

Tenneson Engineering Corp. has prepared a storm water management plan for the project which is attached to the Biological Assessment currently under review by the Army Corps and NOAA Fisheries.

“... both treated concentrations (4.0 μg/L) and diluted concentrations (2.0 μg/L) [of dissolved copper] appear to be in line with the values recommended by NMFS [NOAA Fisheries] . . . ”

“It is important to emphasize that because of the site’s history as a ship-repair yard and

remediation site, creation of impervious areas [streets, sidewalks, parking lots and buildings] would have a potential beneficial effect on basin water quality. Preventing surface runoff from infiltrating into the ground would reduce the potential for chemical contaminants remaining in site soils to leach into the basin. The buildings and parking lot would act as a cap over the remaining sediments, preventing further release of contaminants to the basin and surrounding environment. Runoff from the upland portion of the site currently sheet flows into the basin without water quality controls.”

— Nichols Landing Commercial Building Project Biological Assessment, SWCA Environmental Consultants, page22

Is the building above the ordinary high water mark of the Columbia River waters in the basin (a state requirement)?

A field-delineated Ordinary High Water determination conducted in June and July 2012 identified the Ordinary High Water mark as 79.39 feet at the boat basin. This report has been submitted to state and federal agencies for concurrence. The commercial building is located above 79.4 feet. In any case, the City will not issue a building permit without approval from the Army Corps and the Department of State Lands as required in the City Council’s decision:

“The applicant shall apply for and obtain any permits required by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Oregon Division of State Lands for this development, including, but not limited to dredge, fill and removal of jurisdictional wetlands, any development proposed below the line of ordinary high water, within the waters of the state and/or waters of the United States.” (emphasis added)

Does the plan include an adequate public walking/biking path (part of the city plan)?

Both the Planning Commission and City Council have approved the location and design of the Public Access Way (PAW). At the Planning Commission hearing, we accepted Heather Staten’s proposal for the addition of a second “waterside path” as well as the City Council’s additional conditions to the PAW and waterside path. State and federal permitting for the waterside path is already underway.

The first four questions (and many others as well) will be answered to the satisfaction of the Army Corps of Engineers, NOAA Fisheries, DSL and other federal and state agencies before the City will issue a building permit and we can begin construction. The question about the walking/biking path has already been decided by the Planning Commission and City Council. The Friends of the Hood River Waterfront are unwilling to accept that they lost by substantial margins (4-1 and 7-0).

Mr. Hazlehurst and the Friends of the Hood River Waterfront have had seven months to review the environmental reports cited above. Yet, they have produced no scientific analysis that refutes the reports’ conclusions.

In the public discussion of the hotel and commercial development (as well as the cable park), I think the public is best served by sticking to the facts.

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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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