Plan shown Tuesday

Port scales back Waterfront plan

Almost one year ago, the "bold, innovative" waterfront master plan was unveiled -- a dramatic drawing that drew applause from almost everyone who viewed it.

Port of Hood River officials were also thrilled with the design that blended recreational and development uses in a landscaped setting -- until they looked at the $12 million or higher price tag that would be necessary to make it a reality.

However, the commission didn't want the latest development plan to join the stack of sketches from past failed efforts so they decided to draft a "do-able" alternative.

Unhappy with the failure of the Portland-based Leland Consulting Group to tie better cost estimates to their conceptual drawings, the port withheld $15,000 from the final payment for services and hired Carl Perron, a Hood River architect, to help downscale the project.

While the result is not as visually stimulating, Dave Harlan, port manager, said it is affordable at about $5 million and still provides plenty of mixed-use opportunities.

That design will be presented for public viewing at a special Waterfont Task Force meeting from 6 to 8 p.m. on Nov. 27 at Waucoma Center, 902 Wasco Street.

Most notably absent is the broad diagonal boulevard that cut across both public and private property, leading travelers and pedestrians from the "gateway" at the base of the Second Street Overpass to a park-like setting on Lot 6.

That naturalized property which is heavily used by recreationists remains untouched in the port's updated design plans, although the roadway to gain access to the site has been shifted so that it no longer crosses private property or splits buildable parcels.

Harlan said in place of the more than four acres needed to accommodate the boulevard, the port has managed to move the roadway west of its existing location without the necessity of purchasing easements. He said the new passage will also preserve the 11-acres of developable property, which had been cut into "odd-shaped" lots by Leland's rendering.

"We had to find a plan that was realistic and reasonable to meet our budget, especially with a bridge re-decking project coming up next year that will probably cost between $8-10 million dollars," said Harlan.

He said the port has also preserved the walking path along the entire length of its waterfront property and provided additional footage from the overpass to Lot 6. In addition, he said port officials have retained the "green swath" concept proposed by Leland to create open space and separate property uses. However, the numerous waterways, fountains and small ponds have not been included, although he said they could be added back in at some point in the future if funding permits.

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