HR port, city move toward final plan

Two public agencies will meet on Monday to discuss waterfront development issues — including the creation of a special taxation district to pay for public parks.

The Hood River City Council and Hood River Port Commission will engage in a “broad” conversation at 6 p.m. on April 7 in the municipal courtroom at the intersection of Second and State streets.

Port Director Dave Harlan said the group of elected officials will work together to finalize zoning and other details on the port’s new conceptual plan. He said a proposal will also be considered to ask voters for help with the landscaping and maintenance of Lot 7 — a four-acre fenced parcel around the Western Power building — a riverside jetty and a paved footpath along the shoreline.

“A lot of our talk is going to center on funding mechanisms,” said Harlan.

Once zoned by the city, the architectural blueprint designed by the port will be used to guide development for 31 acres from the Hood River to the Hook. Harlan said the challenge facing the public entity is how it can generate enough revenue from less than 20 acres of developable properties to landscape and care for open space areas.

The challenge of how to compatibly blend mixed development in the same neighborhood will be undertaken by the firm chosen to bring architectural sketches to life. Currently, the port is considering six applicant companies that are vying to construct buildings for retail, residential and light industrial uses. Harlan said final selection will not be made until he and other port officials have visited candidates’ other project sites throughout Oregon to gain a firsthand view of their finished product.

Meanwhile, the Port Commission is preparing an ordinance to regulate the conduct of recreationists along the waterfront. On Tuesday, the port board directed staffers to draft an ordinance that will be reviewed later this month. Harlan said most of the existing rules, such restrictions on kiteboarding, are already posted on signboards but the ordinance will give law enforcement authorities more “teeth” to use when violations occur.

“It’s not a horrible new day down at the port, it’s just some written rules that we will expect people to abide by and that we hope will eliminate some problems,” said Harlan.

For example, he said numerous issues have arisen over dogs running loose along the Columbia River, people setting up overnight camps in day-use areas, and recreational vehicles parked for days in prohibited zones.

The draft ordinance will be modeled after the version adopted by the Port of Cascade Locks. That document contains provisions about fishing, hunting and other recreational uses of the marina and park.

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