A series of welcome mats

Home is a more complicated concept in this era of foreclosures and high rents and mortgage costs.

But local agencies are making definite progress in trying to meet the affordable housing need in Hood River County.

See page A1 for coverage of Hood River Crossing and related and future projects.

One 40-apartment complex is under construction on West Cascade in Hood River, and there stands a good chance we will see other new apartments as well as improvements to existing ones within the next couple of years.

It’s good to see the advent of a place for new welcome mats. Forty units of low-income housing will help meet a need, but it also points to further need for collaboration between the jurisdictions and the housing authority to create more such opportunities.

Welcome mats can also be laid out for other “new homes” in our midst:

-- Columbia Area Transit holds a grand opening Friday at its new facility on Wasco Loop. This is the long-awaited fulfillment of a need: CAT, the mobile embodiment of the Hood River County Transportation District, has done dispatch from one location and stored and maintained its buses at another. Now, everything will be under one roof, meaning greater efficiency for CAT as it continues its efforts to serve the transportation needs of the community.

The new “HQ” for CAT is located just a few blocks from the West Cascade-Rand Road intersection. With bus traffic routinely traveling that way, it is a good thing that the city and state are working together on installing a traffic signal at that well-traveled intersection.

-- Western Antique Aeroplane & Automobile Museum is settling into its new hangar, now in its second full season. Monthly “Second Saturday” events at the museum are increasingly popular, and are often celebrated with a fundraiser supporting a community group.

-- The Port of Cascade Locks has worked with tenant Portland Spirit to do significant upgrades to the port marina and the park, enabling the company that runs the flagship Sternwheeler Columbia Gorge to operate more efficiently and host more, and larger, events. This will help give the visitor center at Cascade Locks the higher profile it deserves as an amenity in the community. A stroll along Thunder Island, or a meal or liquid refreshment on the patio overlooking the river is a great way to pass a summer afternoon in one of the most beautiful locations in the Gorge.

-- Speaking of relaxing places in the sun, the grounds at Hood River Aquatic Center saw a major improvement last month with the construction of the new patio for pool users to enjoy. The patio will also enhance facility events, from birthday parties on up to major swimming meets. Additionally, the new fence along May Street is an attractive addition to the neighborhood, its undulating metal invoking the waves of the pool.

-- Kudos to the Port of Hood River for making a major investment in the community by providing a new home, the Halyard Building, for an established Hood River business.

The building itself makes a statement: It will have a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, Silver designation, a nationally recognized standard for environmentally sensitive design. Halyard Building’s sustainable design includes a sloped roof to collect rainwater that is stored in a cistern for landscape irrigation, parking lots that direct runoff to detention areas and a 23-kilowatt solar array on the roof. The energy-efficient building reduces consumption and costs.

Meanwhile, Advanced Navigation and Positioning Systems is transforming the interior for its own needs for design, testing, planning, and meeting spaces, with an October move-in target.

ANPC’s tenancy on the waterfront is one more step in the port area’s transformation; it is located across from the Waterfront Park, a busy parcel that daily attracts visitors and locals to its beach, trails, climbing wall, and picnic area, and complements, rather than clashes with, surrounding commercial enterprise.

In this case the port is essentially putting out the welcome mat for a goal that the agency has long held and is now seeing come to fruition: a healthy mix of uses that is gradually making the waterfront a vibrant place where people go to work as well as play.

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