Port ways: There is still plenty of time to plug into planning

As footprints increase, a blueprint is in the works at the Hood River waterfront.

The Port’s ongoing Strategic Business Plan actually affects not just the waterfront but all the holdings and facilities of the taxing district known as Port of Hood River.

The Port just wrapped up the fourth of four shareholder input meetings on Lot 1, which is the linchpin property on the waterfront and the chunk of land that Port Executive Director Michael McElwee accedes is “job one” in terms of overall planning. The SBP will dominate the Port commission docket in the last part of 2013 and into 2014.

The SBP will guide operations and investments for the next five years, and it affects what the Port policies or actions will be for the Hood River bridge, Ken Jernstedt Airfield, Waterfront Business Park and other commercial and recreational assets in the county.

The first of two public meetings on the SBP happens next week in Hood River (details on page A1). If you miss that one, plan to attend the Oct. 23 meeting at Mt. Hood Town Hall. The Port district covers all of the county except for Cascade Locks, so it’s healthy that the Port is taking the SBP process on the road and to the upper valley.

Much is changing on the waterfront, with Hood River Juice Co. expansion and the rise of new commercial buildings along Portway Avenue. Grant funding from the state will enable progress on improving waterfront pedestrian access along Nichols Boat Basin, and that ties directly to the future of Lot 1, the massive piece of land that is spread like an empty canvas at the base of the Second Street off ramp, the only access point to the main waterfront area.

Just how people get to and from the waterfront, and onto such amenities including the waterfront trail, will be another major question to be answered once the Port takes up Lot 1 planning in earnest in 2014. Areas affecting the issue are the Event Site, Nichols Boat Basin, use change at Expo Center, the growing Waterfront Park and the burgeoning commercial district.

The Port is looking into transportation planning that could include shuttle service for waterfront district employees.

With a finite service area identified, a transportation provider (CAT) in place, and a clear need, this type of idea is excellent ballast for all aspects of the planning.

Advance consideration of how people actually get there is a critical piece of the overall vision of what can and should happen in the vibrant mixed-use area that is gradually redefining the cityscape and cultural map of Hood River.

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