Hood River’s city and port officials are determined that plans to develop the waterfront will not be scuttled by either a lack of cooperation or funding.
“I really feel the money is out there and it’s going to take some trust on the part of the city, the port and the citizens to buy into this project and make it happen,” said City Manager Lynn Guenther at a joint meeting of the agencies on Monday.
Guenther advocated for an intergovernmental agreement that would expedite planning efforts and unite the search for money to construct a new park and a riverfront trail. He was joined in that message by Dave Harlan, port director, who said the bottom line was that if the current plans did not “pencil out” they would be added to a pile of past failed efforts.
Steve Everroad, city finance director, briefed the Port Commissioners and City Councilors about a mix of funding options, including putting a bond levy request before county voters on the ballot in the spring of 2004.
“It’s really very simple, you develop a plan for what you want for a park and go out to the voters — either the public is behind the project or it isn’t,” said Everroad.
Of special interest to the officials was the development of Lot 7, a four-acre parcel that currently houses the Western Power building. When that company went out of business in early 2002 the port decided to consider demolition of the empty plant and locate the park there instead of the adjacent Lot 6.
Harlan said the advantage to that move was that, while both shoreline parcels were about the same size at four acres, Lot 7 had the advantage of being located next to the riverside jetty known as the Hook. He said that site would also be solely dedicated to recreational use while development plans for Lot 6 had included either 30 or 40 percent light industrial use.
Guenther said the changes made to the master plan since it was mothballed in 1999 needed to be explained to the public when it was formally presented. He outlined that some of these changes included an increased height allowance on the buildings and less distance for waterfront setbacks.
“I think it’s important for the public to understand that the port earmarked changes to make an economically viable project,” said Guenther.
Harlan said citizens would be provided with ample opportunities to hear that message at upcoming meetings. He said the port would finalize its plans for presentation to the city by June. At that time, the documents will be reviewed in public hearings before the waterfront zoning is adopted.
Meanwhile a port/city task force will begin scouting out funding options and the port will undertake choose one of six contractors to undertake the waterfront development.
“I think we have an eager public that wants to look at this and see what zoning has been established,” said Councilor Chuck Haynie, a member of the taskforce.