A Park Awaits

On the waterfront, potential is ripe

June 8, 2005

Saturday, in the Park ...” went the old song by the band Chicago.

Like all songs about parks, it conjures images of places where people congregate, relax, and share an open space that gives pleasure in a variety of ways.

The concept of a waterfront park has long fascinated this community, but varying interpretations of what to build, and even what the park would mean, have kept it from coming to fruition.

The old stalemate can now be history, and we urge residents to get behind a plan that will move the waterfront park forward.

Saturday for the park might be the refrain now: June 10 is the day the City of Hood River, and members of the citizen-based Park Development Committee (PDC), present a request to the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department for a $500,188 Local Government Program grant to build a waterfront park on Lot 6 near The Hook.

The Hood River proposal meets a long-hoped goal of the community. The Hood River Valley Parks and Recreation District, a partner in the proposal, identified a waterfront park as its number one priority in the 1998 District Master Plan — specifically, to “acquire and develop a waterfront community park at Lot 6.” A recent Recreation District survey named a waterfront park as the greatest recreational need. Lot 6 was identified as a location for a waterfront park in the 1992 Port Waterfront Plan.

The place is here and the time is now for a park for all our Saturdays, and Mondays or Thursdays, too.

The park grant is right for Hood River, given the location at the heart of the National Scenic Area, and with Hood River residents’ love of recreation. The park will help meet the diverse outdoor interests of the community and provide visitors one more reason to tarry. The park will give our growing population a needed place to play, and enhance Hood River’s well-deserved reputation for hospitality.

Local citizens have stepped forward to direct the process of planning the park, along with organizing, fund-raising and garnering further community support. The Port of Hood River has deeded over the strategically located six-acre parcel — the $1.4 million value of the land. Our friends in the Japanese Sister City of Tsuruta have pledged 50 trees.

A $10,000 cash donation has been pledged by G. Williker’s Toy Shoppe toward a new children’s playground. That amenity is one of several features confirmed for the park by the PDC, along with restrooms, open space, and pedestrian paths. Hood River’s Andy von Flotow has pledged to donate $100,000 worth of topsoil for landscaping. Another citizen pledged a three-man work crew for three days, and someone else has already donated $2,000 toward the project.

This shows that, literally and figuratively, the community is willing to get its hands dirty for the project. Many other ways to dig in and pitch in are going to be made very clear very soon by the PDC, starting with Friday’s kickoff fund-raiser at Full Sail (details on page A1). As the article explains, residents can give input for the park design as well as learn how to contribute financially to the community project.

The chance to create a real park on the waterfront stands before this community. It represents an opportunity for that coming Saturday when, to quote the song again, “people talking, really smiling, a real celebration, waiting for us all.”

We might sing in different ways, but we can all agree on the need to sing. Through the PDC’s efforts, we now have a unifying tune.

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