ANOTHER VOICE: Nichols basin: all we ask for is ‘a reasonable settlement’


When Friends of the Hood River Waterfront first heard about the settlement proposal for Nichols Basin that was advanced by Arthur Babitz and Jon Davies, we were encouraged and excited about the potential to shelve plans for the cable park and instead focus on a restoration and water access enhancement plan.

While we were surprised that this plan was publically announced before anyone ever talked to us about it, Friends nonetheless invited the attorneys for all the parties — the Naitos, the city, and the Port — to sit down and talk face-to-face to try to bring about a settlement that will benefit both the community and the Naitos.

The ideas proposed — such as permanent protection of public access to the Nichols Basin and use of urban renewal district financing to fund restoration and access enhancements — are promising, but turning them into a real and enforceable agreement will be tough work. The Naitos have made clear that, as a part of any settlement, they wanted Friends to drop our legal challenges to their commercial building, hotel, and parking lot.

While we are more than willing to sit down and negotiate a comprehensive resolution, it is essential that any agreement be clearly enforceable and negotiated in a credible and professional way. With two current lawsuits, two more potential lawsuits, and at least six parties, this settlement would be complex under the best of circumstances.

We think this work can be accomplished but only if there is a genuine desire to make this type of settlement a reality. Several key things will need to happen:

First, the city has been required to schedule a Nov. 19 Planning Commission hearing on the Naitos’ cable park application. Moving forward with a controversial public hearing would obviously be at odds with creating a climate where talks could be productive and where the parties can focus on settlement. The Naitos could agree to a temporary delay in the hearing. Or, since the Port owns the basin, it could simply withdraw its consent for the Naitos to seek a city permit for the cable park. We have asked the Port to do this.

Second, the Naitos have so far refused to agree to participate in a standard negotiation process in which the parties work confidentially toward a settlement that would itself be public. As anyone who has been through a legal settlement process knows, confidentiality encourages free exchange of ideas and is the foundation for a successful negotiation. Confidentiality breeds reasoned compromise and consensus. Any negotiated plan would of course be completely public, and would probably be subject to review by the city’s planning commission.

It was clear to anyone who attended the Port’s public meeting on the cable park last month that the majority of those who attended wanted to keep the basin open to all users. Friends sees similarly broad public support for a waterfront path that extends around the Basin and connects to the existing waterfront trail — rather than using the Naitos’ private deck as a substitute for a real waterfront path.

For many months, Friends has been clear that we believe the cable park, hotel and commercial building as currently proposed violate local, state and federal laws. Friends believes, however, that if we can sit down and have a professional and good faith settlement conversation, we can get to a place where everyone gets most of what they want. The real winner would be a legacy of public access to a restored and enhanced Boat Basin of which we can be proud.

The Friends of the Hood River Waterfront Board of Directors includes Derek Bell, Susan Crowley, Patrick Hiller, Corie Lohr and chair Linda Maddox. Susan Crowley is a former attorney and mediator, and both she and Maddox have served as chairs of the Hood River Planning Commission.

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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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