Port Waterfront plan unveiled at Thursday forums

Hood River port and city officials will explain the reasoning behind proposed mixed-use development of the waterfront at two public forums on Thursday.

Port Director Dave Harlan and City Manager Lynn Guenther want to update county residents on plans to use the property for both recreational and business opportunities. They will provide an overview of the long planning process — including 47 public meetings — at Bowe Theater in the Hood River Valley High School. The first forum will be 12:15-1:15 p.m. and the second at 7 p.m.

Meanwhile, the Citizens for Responsible Waterfront Development have gathered 479 valid signatures on a petition to preserve almost the entire port property for a riverside park. The Hood River City Council rejected that proposal on Monday, choosing not to adopt it into policy. By law, the ballot measure will now be brought before the voters in the November general election.

Although the port and city are seeking mixed-use of the waterfront, about 50 percent of the undeveloped properties are slated to remain in open space. The port is now scouting out ways to finance a paved trail along the entire shoreline, restroom facilities and landscaping. Harlan said the public agency is aware of the county’s high unemployment rate and lower income levels — and doesn’t want the burden of paying for these amenities to fall upon struggling families.

He said the port is supportive of recreation, but is equally concerned about job creation to increase the quality of life for all area residents.

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