November 23, 2005
Members of a citizen advisory group believe that if Hood River is going to have a world-class waterfront park, it needs a world-class designer.
So, the Park Development Committee (PDC) has chosen GreenWorks, Inc., out of four consultants vying for the job. The Portland-based firm will be paid $22,000 in funding donated by the Hood River Valley Parks and Recreation District.
Christine Knowles, co-chair of the PDC, said GreenWorks was selected because its designers have successfully undertaken a wide range of projects.
For example, she said the company designed scenic urban parks in Portland’s Pearl District and in Lake Oswego. In addition, GreenWorks navigated through the complex planning process in the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area.
That project involved the expansion of recreational facilities around Drano Lake in Skamania County, Wash. The architects also crafted the plan to help downtown Bingen, Wash., recreate a historic look.
“We chose them because they had done a lot of comparable projects in other small communities,” said Knowles.
GreenWorks will begin scoping out the conceptual plan by the first week of December. Knowles said knowing that work is underway will make the community party on Dec. 2 more exciting. That event is intended to raise money for the shoreline park on six acres known as Lot 6. (see Eat drink and give lots of money)
The Port of Hood River will hand the deed to the $1.7 million parcel over to the City of Hood River by the end of 2005, according to Knowles. She said $225,000 has already been contributed in cash, pledges or in-kind services. She said park construction could cost up to $3.7 million if a new beach is created – so the fund-raising campaign still has a ways to go.
“How we do the water’s edge is going to have a lot to do with how the park looks and what it costs,” said Knowles. “We have to get community support, practicality and budget all together to decide what we want to do.”
This summer, the PDC hoped to be ahead of the game by scoring $500,000 in state funds for the project. But Hood River’s proposal was aced out by other ventures that had been on the Oregon Parks list much longer, most of which had already received federal dollars.
However, Knowles is hopeful about next year’s chances at the state level. She said the PDC is more likely to get its request approved the second time around. She said that possibility is much stronger if the PDC can show that the project continues to have strong community support.
To ensure that the public is onboard, Knowles said the conceptual renderings of GreenWorks will be unveiled for comment at two meetings early next year.
“We need to go back before the port and city by May 6 with a plan and there’s no reason why we can’t,” she said.
The port has tied its donation of land to basic development standards, including restrooms, a children’s play area, group picnic facilities and landscaping. But the PDC wants the community to help decide how these features will be sited, and what else should be added.
“We need a park for all ages, somewhere that the whole family can go for the day and find shade and shelter with a lot of variety,” said Knowles.
She said the PDC decided to hire a designer to ensure the park was planned as professionally as possible. She is hopeful the project will not only provide a multi-use gathering place for the community, but help attract businesses to enhance economic development opportunities as well.