Thursday, November 3, 2005
I want to thank Columbia Riverkeeper for holding our elected leaders accountable for their actions. How our waterfront gets developed will be Hood River’s public statement about what our county offers to residents, tourists, and potential new businesses. Most voters oppose the Port’s short term plans to cash in on the waterfront. A conservative long term approach to development will make the Port, the county, and the voters more money, more jobs, more equity, and provide a better business climate. A plan that benefits a few only provides those benefits for a short time. A plan that benefits all, well, benefits all.
In the case of Hood River’s Columbia River frontage, the community has twice voted by large margins to oppose commercial development to the water’s edge. Ashland, Ore., and Austin, Texas, both continue to benefit tremendously from their conservative approach to waterfront development. Those who wanted to build to the edge of those waterways now admit the larger setbacks created a better business climate. According to their plans, the mayor and the Port would rather we couldn’t see the waterfront without an invitation into someone’s timeshare condo. Their plans provide a thin little swatch of shaded, north-facing, chemically dependent golf course lawn, pilings and riprap, instead of a wide natural swale that could be used by everyone. The questions I think we all have though, are why can’t the mayor and the Port simply say why they oppose two voter mandates? Why must the whole county make such a sacrifice for them? They won’t personally profit from this development (I hope), so why are they pandering to developers instead of serving their constituents? If the Port makes more money we will just have a bigger economic bully playing the inside track. We should not allow anyone to take our public river frontage away. We should allow the beauty of our setting to attract more business for all. Tell your mayor, and tell your neighbors. Raise a stink.