Lot 1: Plan for potential

Hard to ignore, yet historically hard to plan for, Lot 1 sits in our collective front yard and beckons the community to finally act.

Lot 1, bounded by Second Avenue, the boat basin and the Event Site, is the most prime of all prime real estate in Hood River County, and yet for years it has remained empty except for Harvest Festival and other key weekends, when it fills with cars. Usually it’s little more than a large puddle with a great view.

Lot 1 deserves more, and it appears that the Port of Hood River, the agency in charge of the land, is finally poised to make something happen. An 18-month community input process is about to begin.

It will take community support and a true community vision.

“We want to be rigorously seeking public input and invite in specific guests from a developer standpoint, environmental standpoint, recreational standpoint and others, and have a good discussion,” Port Executive Director Michael McElwee said this week.

Hood River waterfront parcels, Lot 1 included, have had big plans before: a hotel proposal in the 1990s; the cable park proposal on Nichols Boat Basin in 2011-12. The foundation for a fast food restaurant that was never completed is still visible on Portway Avenue near Second Avenue.

It helps to look at the pieces already in place, a foundation that truly can be built upon: the city of Hood River’s recent decision to allow residential use on the waterfront; the unobtrusive nature of the nearby manufacturing tenants and landowners, including Tofurky, Ryan’s Juice, and Pfriem Brewery) and the wide, well-planned streets are all positives. The multitude of recreational facilities — the Event Site, The Hook, Waterfront Park (with the amphitheater and other improvements in planned phase two, adding more amenities as early as 2014) and the waterfront trail also add to the site’s potential.

The last feature is admittedly piecemeal, but it is there: A little-recognized fact is that public access that is safe and, mostly, easy makes it possible to walk from Second Street to the Hook, over to Hood River Inn, and back into downtown Hood River. You can do this and encounter Walk/Do Not Walk signs only once (on the Second Street overpass).

The one section where no designated sidewalk or path exists is along Lot 1 and the west edge of Nichols boat basin. The port is currently applying for a federal grant totaling $108,700 to help improve nearly 1,700 feet along that stretch. Whether the grant comes through or not, that trail link is a critical part of whatever plan is finalized for Lot 1.

You can walk to Lot 1 or drive there. With the proper planning, its proximity to downtown can be enhanced. It’s important to consider the trail and its current status and future potential within the overall Lot 1 scenario. Lot 1 is a large vacant area that is visually significant from downtown, the freeway and from the waterfront itself. Views in both directions need protecting.

Lot 1 and its neighboring parcels indeed have great potential, and it is good that the Port is opening up the planning process to accept wide input.

Though no “grand plan” has yet emerged for the entire waterfront, the planning and buildup that has happened so far is a healthy mix of recreational and industrial uses. Consider that, on the waterfront, places of recreation and dining exist side-by-side with the city’s wastewater treatment plant; that’s a true example of positive co-existence.

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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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