Land limits dominate new Port budget


News staff writer

May 13, 2006

The Port of Hood River has sold its five-year supply of developable land in one year. That was part of the message commissioners and budget committee members heard Tuesday night during a meeting of the proposed 2006-07 budget.

Except for a few minor tweaks, the $354,552 budget was approved and moves next in the process to a public budget hearing. That will be held at 5:30 p.m. June 6 at the Expo Center in Hood River.

Port Commissioner President Sherry Bohn read a summary of 2005-06 budget activities. A single item with a large impact on the outline for the 2006-07 budget was the sale of all of the port’s ready-to-develop property.

The port anticipated it had a five-year supply of what Bohn referred to as “shovel-ready” property within the Wasco Business Park. However, all of that land sold within one year instead of five. Due to this, the port put an emphasis in the capital portion of their 2006-07 proposed budget to acquire both under-utilized light industrial property as well as vacant property.

There were five parcels in the Wasco Business Park with one lot pending sale and one retained by the port for the offices. The other lots sold to Columbia Area Transit, Russ Hoag of Cloud Cap Technology, and Dean Cameron.

The port also sold three lots at John Weber Business Park in Odell with an additional lot having an offer made on it. That leaves one parcel, a difficult piece to develop, left for the port to sell.

Among other projects completed under their 2005-06 budget were the transfer of 6.4 acres of waterfront property to the city of Hood River for use as a park, completion of the Second Street alignment, and a marketing analysis for light industrial development.

Under the 2006-07 budget, the most significant project is the Toll Plaza Improvement Project. Port Budget Officer Linda Shames said the electronic toll booth would combine with the Oregon Department of Transportation’s improvement of the Exit 64 interchange to help with traffic congestion over the bridge.

“If you have ever been here in the summertime and seen how traffic backs up, that is what it will help with,” she said. “We should be able to at least double the rate at which people can go through the toll plaza.”

Funding for this project is included in the Hood River Coalition priorities for federal funding. If those funds are not available, then the toll plaza improvement project may be split into two phases for multiple year construction.

Also during 2006-07, the port plans to construct a new light industrial building on the waterfront and the potential acquisition of other light industrial property. This development could extend past the budget year but the money has been earmarked for the projects in this budget year.

Money has also been allotted for developing the waterfront pedestrian trail system and a federally funded study of the feasibility of a bridge across Hood River to connect waterfront properties without using the interstate highway.

The port also plans to redevelop the Marina Center building into the port office. This move will consolidate port operations and allow redevelopment of the Port office area into a higher class of commercial space.

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