Saturday, April 26, 2014
The Columbia Gorge Windsurfing Association announced with excitement this week that it had acquired a one-acre parcel of Columbia River waterfront known as Swell City. After a unanimous vote of approval last week from the CGWA board of directors, Executive Director Greg Stiegel signed documents Monday making the purchase official.
With good wind exposure and easy access to the river, the property, about half a mile west of Spring Creek Hatchery along Highway 14, has long been a popular windsurfing site, albeit with limited capacity for parking. When the CGWA found out the landowner was putting the property up for sale, Stiegel says his organization jumped at the opportunity.
“We were given the first shot at the property,” Stiegel said, noting that the realtor for the sale was longtime Gorge sailor Sean Aiken. “Once we looked in to all the details, it seemed like a no-brainer. Considering what it was priced at, almost anyone could have snagged that space; and who knows what they would have done with it. If another private owner were to have purchased it, they could have put up a gate and made it private.”
CGWA purchased the lot for just under $33,000, using Doug’s Beach/BNSF railroad settlement funds that must be spent specifically on site access improvements by 2016.
Stiegel says, for the short team at least, CGWA’s goal is to keep things status quo at the site.
“There’s a pretty core group of users who have been there for a long time,” he said. “Our goal was to preserve windsurfing access at the site, and we are stoked to be able to do that. At least for this summer, we want to keep things as similar as possible. We haven’t really formed a long term strategic plan for the site yet.”
n In addition to the Swell City purchase, CGWA is spending $50,000 of its remaining settlement funds to help develop a new river access and windsurfing launch site at the west end of the Hook, on Port of Hood River property. The roughly $150,000 project is slated to start sometime this fall and be completed by the 2015 season. It will coincide with the City of Hood River’s sewer outflow relocation project, which will move the current outflow pipeline down the Hook road and into the river toward Wells Island. The project will be funded by CGWA, about $20,00 from the Hood River Parks and Recreation District and the Port of Hood River.
Additional topside improvements to the site, and a pedestrian path along the Hook road, are also planned, with funding for that pending a matching grant that the Port has applied for.
After the Swell City purchase and the Hook launch funding, Stiegel says the CGWA has about $45,000 remaining of the 2006 settlement funds.