New parks for the waterfront

CRWD starts signature drive for November ballot measure

Six out of seven proposed measures have qualified for the election ballot — but only one will be sent to voters.

The Citizens for Responsible Waterfront Development have selected their top choice for presentation to the electorate within the City of Hood River. However, before that proposal can be posted on an official ballot, the group must gather more than 400 signatures from a pool of 2,890 registered voters.

City residents could be asked, “Shall city policy require part of the waterfront to be preserved for parks?” under language approved by the city administration. The area under question includes much of the waterfront property owned by the Port of Hood River.

“CRWD chose the initiative from the six that were accepted because it best represents the group’s goals and its commitment to ensure preservation of a waterfront park for Hood River,” said spokesperson Michelle Slade.

She said CRWD submitted the other five proposals with different versions of the same text in hopes that one would be found acceptable. A seventh measure was thrown out because officials determined that it presented the issue in “quasi-judicial” language that violated Oregon’s land-use statutory process.

The same rejection was given to a similar proposal in late May. That sent the CRWD back to the drawing board to draft a measure they believed would reach the same goal by centering on a policy issue. Slade said the activist group wants to give voters the final say on how shoreline property should be zoned.

“CRWD believes that having a proposal qualify for the November ballot is a positive step toward ensuring a public process concerning the issue,” she said.

The latest round of initiatives is bringing a sense of deja vu to both port and city officials. In 1998, the city ruled that a CRWD proposal to dedicate Lot 6 as open space and zone most of the remainder of the waterfront for recreational/commercial use was unconstitutional. That finding determined did not meet a state rule limiting measures to one subject. A second initiative was then filed by CRWD to dedicate almost the entire waterfront as a park, but that movement died when it failed to garner the requisite number of signatures.

Meanwhile, as CRWD begins its signature gathering drive, the port has scheduled two one-hour public forums about waterfront planning. The informational programs are open to all interested community members and will take place at Hood River Valley High School on July 31. The first session begins at 12:15 p.m., although an optional picnic buffet will be set up outside Bowe Theatre at 11:30 a.m. The menu includes two meats, salads, fruit, bread and a beverage for $8.50. Lunch reservations must be made by calling 386-2000 before 5 p.m. on July 29.

The evening event takes place inside the theatre auditorium at 7 p.m. Both Dave Harlan, port director, and Lynn Guenther, city manager, will be joined by staffers in presentations that include a historical overview of the long planning process — including more than 47 public hearings to date — and details about work done in the past year. If time allows, they will also field written questions from the audience.

The port has also dropped one more developer from its list of candidates. Harlan said Harper Houf Righellis, Inc., of Portland decided not to respond to a request for more information. That firm and three other finalists had been asked to submit more details about their proposal for mixed use of the waterfront. That leaves Heritage Investment Corp of Portland, Gerding/Edler Development Company, also of Portland, and William Smith Properties, Inc. of Bend to vie for the job of creating a master plan.

Harlan said each of the remaining firms has been asked to answer 10 specific questions, including how shoreline recreational and business opportunities can be developed to complement downtown Hood River. He said several public hearings will take place during the final phase of waterfront planning.

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