By MICHELLE SLADE
In response to Mr. Richard Lee (Aug. 6) questioning the responsibility and motives of the Citizens For Responsible Waterfront Development’s initiative regarding waterfront park space:
To address Mr. Lee’s comment regarding why do city residents get to decide land use for the entire county, please be reminded that the waterfront area is currently under a re-zoning process and that area falls within the city limits. The fact is that the city zones only within its boundaries, hence the CRWD initiative being filed only in the city.
With respect to Mr. Lee’s comments regarding the re-zone and development process, he may be interested to know that 10 percent of the signatures gathered for the initiative were county residents that wanted to sign it, regardless.
The portion of taxes we all pay to the port district are figured at .03 percent of our assessed property values. With the average home values in the area at $152,000, that assumes we each pay an average of $4.52 a year on our property taxes to the Port of Hood River. Is that too much to ask for a park on the waterfront and for results that continue to foster recreational opportunities, that bring in $70 million in tourism dollars annually from OUTSIDE the community?
While the port stresses that the waterfront must provide jobs, neither the port or the developer have yet delivered specifics on how they plan to create these jobs, or if they will at all. The 10 acres (six acres on Lot 6 and four acres on Lot 7) that CRWD proposes to remain as park space will create something special on our waterfront while at the same time increasing the value and potential utility of the remaining 27 acres. As many of us know first hand, that WILL also attract businesses and jobs here.
The continued request by the Hood River community in favor of waterfront park space demonstrates the level of support the community has for park space on the waterfront. Contributions have manifested themselves on many different levels. Offers have been made by community members to purchase the waterfront and contribute financially to development of park space on all of the land north of Portway. Currently, Hood River resident Andy von Flotow has placed yet another offer on the table to buy the waterfront and turn all land north of Portway into a public park.
Many of the us have committed years to working on the port committees devoted to planning parks and walking trails along the rivers edge.
Even so, we were asked to stop working on these projects as soon as funding became a priority! Once again, at a recent June port meeting Susan Froehlich requested that the port re-instate a committee to address a waterfront park and possibly work with the developer but this too was denied. To date, all offers have been consistently and continually refused by the port yet the public keeps asking to preserve the waterfront for park space.
CRWD has researched many alternative funding possibilities — visit www.hoodriverwaterfront.com for funding ideas that other waterfront parks have successfully used. We are more than willing to roll up our sleeves and do the work to make this happen. Let’s keep looking at the long-term solutions for the waterfront.
Michelle Slade of Hood River is a CRWD member.