Port aims for five kite schools at Event Site

Now, seven schools have presence at waterfront area

Some kiteboard school owners are likely to be rather unhappy when the Port of Hood River wraps up its kiteboarding school selection process this winter.

Port staff presented commissioners with several options for school locations at the waterfront at the Commission’s meeting Tuesday night, and were steered toward a plan that would put five schools at the event site.

Port waterfront coordinator Liz Whitmore said the port would not be cutting schools entirely if it didn’t have to, but would be limiting the number that would receive concessions for the event site.

Currently all seven schools which operate on the Hood River waterfront have a presence at the popular event site.

The plan which appeared to gain favor amongst the commissioners would include five spots on the upper cruise ship dock at the Event Site, with three of those spots dedicated to kite schools and two to windsurfing and stand up paddle boarding schools.

Additionally temporary space would be set up in the event site parking lot over July 4 weekend for schools operating out of The Spit.

The commission also discussed whether the permit decision committee has the final say on whether the schools that lose out on permits would have the right to appeal to the commission.

“The RFP (request for proposals) committee should be set up to be as unbiased as possible and that is where it should stop,” said commissioner Fred Duckwall.

The plan also called for space for three food vendors on the lower cruise ship dock, but the general feeling among commissioners was that the number of food vendors should be kept at two for now. However they did not rule out the possibility of adding a third later.

The plan also calls for an enclosed stand-up paddleboard storage between the cruise ship dock and the event site grass. Commissioners favored the idea because it kept space for more schools, moved schools out of the event site parking lot and also moved food vendors off the event site grass.

“Last year had five people come to us wanting to be food vendors at the event site,” said commissioner Rich McBride. “Whether we have space to accommodate them all at this site is the question; maybe one or more of those vendors could be in the Luhr Jenson parking lot ... the two vendors on that lower dock will provide a lot of activity and the amount of seating space will be pretty much consumed, we’ve got two good vendors and they’ll feel less put upon I think if we keep it at two.”

In other port activities:

n Commissioners had a lengthy conversation with both waterfront access advocate Heather Staten and developer Bob Naito about the design of the bike and pedestrian pathway along the waterfront. Concerns were raised by port staff and commissioners whether the proposed trails on port and private land would properly link up and whether public access would be restricted due to the potential hotel and commercial building development on the south end of the Nichols Basin.

n Port Director Michael McElwee introduced new Finance Manager Fred Kowell. Kowell replaces longtime port finance director Linda Shames, who retired earlier in the summer.

Kowell previously served as the finance director for Portland Parks and Recreation.

“We are pleased as punch to have him,” McElwee said.

n The port also approved leases for Hood River Distillers and Double Mountain Brewery to use space in the Maritime Building. Maritime Services Company, which had leased the building until this summer, is currently going through bankruptcy proceedings. Port Development Director Steve Burdick said the port is working with Maritime to have all company property moved out of the building.

n The commissioners also received an update on airport construction from Development Director Steve Burdick, who said that the project was underway and that the section of Orchard Road affected by the project would soon be torn up and permanently closed.

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