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Letters to the Editor for Aug. 15, 2012

Mural sadly needed

My husband and I recently celebrated 10 years of living in the Gorge. It is so beautiful and we love it! Many town beautification projects have occurred since we arrived, but one thing hasn’t changed; the worn blank backside of the old Diamond Fruit building.

Ten years ago I wrote a letter to the editor suggesting a mural be painted there, something that would be an attractive welcome to guests and locals alike as they exit the Interstate into downtown Hood River.

I recently saw artist Mark Nilsson at an event, who told me the building’s owner had once approached him about painting a collage of old fruit labels on the back of that building. Wouldn’t that be fabulous?

It seems to me that with the Soroptimists, Elks, Lions, Rotary, Chamber, and the many generous art-hearted people of the Gorge, we could raise the funds to make it happen! Sign me up for the first donation.

Please, let’s not go another 10 years without making that dismal wall into a heart-mark of Hood River.

Nancy Sliwa

White Salmon, Wash.

Breathtaking stuff

Thank you, Columbia Arts Center and curator Peter Marbach for bringing us the beautiful photography exhibit “Chasing the Light.”

Congratulations to the prize-winning photographers, but really to all the contributors. It’s breathtaking stuff.

If you haven’t yet visited the show, be sure to take it in before it ends Sept. 2.

Tina Castañares

Odell

Planning is key

Polarized zoning fights serve no one’s interest. I agree with this point made by Susan Froehlich (Aug. 4) about the waterfront planning spurred by the Naito development. I also agree that the planning lacks vision and that the waterfront is being developed piecemeal.

I believe these points apply as well to land use planning across the county. I’m a newcomer and reluctant to criticize anything in our beautiful valley. But the same three problems repeat, whether the development is the Naito cable park, the failed Barrett Park, Walmart or planning in the Heights. It’s the tail wagging the dog every time.

The process followed in the Barrett Park project offers an excellent example of piecemeal planning that ultimately failed because, due to lack of a clear countywide vision about open space, one landowner jammed up the proposal.

I find Barrett Park an excellent site that provides a valuable public open space for our future, and is a key element in the county’s growing trail system. Strangely, the land was cleared before the necessary county approval was obtained. Tail wagging the dog.

The 1973 Oregon legislature intended that county and city comprehensive plans express residents’ collective vision, then drive the process so that planning wouldn’t be piecemeal and bogged down in rancorous zoning fights. I know this because I was a participant in the formation and early application of those pioneering land use laws.

I also know that the intent of the state’s land use law was not to pit open space against farmland; both are to be protected against urban sprawl. A properly designed Barrett Park could not only complement the valuable surrounding orchards, it could be an interpretive center for our unique agriculture.

David Hupp

Hood River

Keep public basin access

I just tried stand-up paddle boarding two weeks ago for the first time! What fun!

I rented a board down at the kayak place on the Nichols boat basin and had a blast. It was a beautiful day and the water was perfect for a beginner like me, protected from wind and river currents, and unobstructed by structures in the water.

About 30 other people including kids as young as about 6 were out in the basin on SUPs and kayaks, and there were families and dogs playing and swimming off the “beach.”

The private cable wake-boarding amusement park currently proposed for the Nichols Boat Basin would end all of that. The calm water protected from wind and current would no longer be available to me and all the other users. There is no other site at our waterfront that has those unique properties, that is protected and accessible and safe for such water play for all ages.

The cable park would shut off public access to the Nichol’s Basin all summer. For safety reasons, general public use of the water of the 10-acre cable park area would be prohibited during cable operating hours (April to October from 10 a.m. to dusk). And the water (and view) of the basin would be littered with long docks, sliders, a log barrier, and the anchor cables.

The port commissioners are charged with acting in the public’s best interest in deciding whether or not to permit the proposed cable park. It is very clear to this member of the public that the public’s best interest will not be served by the port allowing an exclusive private use of this public domain.

Commissioners, heed your charge and your public.

Bonnie New

Hood River

Cleanup reminder

This is to local dog owners. I am also a longtime dog owner; I live and work in Hood River and walk everywhere. What amazes me is that I find some dog owner who has let their dog defecate on the sidewalk, and then not clean it up.

Please do not blame this on tourists. I have been to various dog parks and had to offer bags from my pockets to locals when it became clear that they were not going to clean up after their animals. Hood River County does an excellent job of providing scooper bags in each park. There is simply no excuse to not be responsible.

When you don’t clean up you are disrespecting other dog owners, the community you live in and local business that is vital to our economy. Besides, it is the law and you should know better. Your dog can not do it for you!

TK Fendrick

Hood River

Thoughts on voter ID

Re: Letter by Cliff Mansfield (the paper is dated Aug. 11 but the Viewpoint section is dated June 30): Unfortunately for Cliff, he is unable to even spell Democrats correctly.

The Republicans have pushed voter ID for many states. In these states many elderly have been refused the right to vote. It seems that the required form of identification is not easily available to those unable to drive to the selected areas.

In many of these states the actual effect is to disallow many qualified voters the right to vote. It is interesting this many of these have been Democrats. This has the appearance of discrimination. The voter ID fraud detected has been very small.

I find it hard to believe that any section of our society always votes either Republican or Democrat. In fact, a Republican politician has recently resigned after it was found that his wife had voted for five years after she died.

I am against the requirement that specific forms of documentation have to be displayed in order to vote. I am also against the vote by mail situation that Oregon uses. I think that Oregon’s system allows too many opportunities for fraud.

Leonard Hickman

Hood River

‘Face time’ lacking?

For years now I’ve personally benefited by taking free “senior option” classes at CGCC. Last year, as my class came to an end, it was announced that the following year the class would be online only: no live teacher, no live classmates clarifying my confusion or asking questions I hadn’t even thought of.

This year, I know a younger student trying to earn a degree. She’s paying good money. She’s having trouble with math and only getting two hours a week with the instructor and the entire class. Consequently, she’s looking elsewhere, like Mt. Hood Community College, for more “face time” allowing more help.

Maybe we need to rethink how well “online” education can work for serious students looking to improve themselves and their economic opportunities. As the politicians like to keep saying, people like her are this nation’s future. Maybe we need to educate them better.

Dave Dockham

Hood River

Preserve farmland

The County Board of Commissioners made the right decision on Aug. 6 to uphold Fritz and Joanne von Lubken’s appeal of the planning commission’s approval of Barrett Park. They voted to preserve our unique and limited base of top-quality farmland.

There is nowhere here for our fruit industry to expand. This valley is flanked by steep, rocky hillsides of some of the worst soils. We can only shrink. That is happening slowly with every new home approved on ag land.

Putting a park, an overwhelmingly urban use, in the middle of high-value agricultural lands is truly a Trojan horse that would beckon other urban uses to follow.

Creating a new park without practical pedestrian access is not adding to a sustainable future. And the argument that this land could someday be reconverted back to farm land rings hollow with stated plans for major cut and fill changes to the topography.

Agriculture has been a stable economic force in Hood River County for over 100 years. Since population growth started in earnest in the 1970s we’ve had many land use battles to save that land for farming.

This valley is unique and still an agricultural valley. As the von Lubkens said, you cannot grow winter pears in Eastern Oregon or in most of the Willamette Valley or along the coast. Now is our watch and citizens will unite once again to carry this land intact through to the next generation.

Farmland with a reliable source of irrigation is becoming a more valuable and limited resource in Oregon, in the USA and the world. Those communities that protect this resource will have a true economic advantage and will help feed local citizens as well as the world.

We know our Parks and Rec organization worked hard for some time to find land within the urban growth boundary. But now they must move on and sell this 31 acres returning the land to the farm use it was zoned to be.

Theirs is noble work. As we know, parks build healthy communities. They must renew that effort to the greater benefit of both our farming community and the larger community of this valley, most of who live in Hood River.

Jeff Hunter

Hood River Valley Residents Committee

Bottled water tests

A recent letter to the editor (“Bottled H2O testing needed,” Aug. 8) made some significant mischaracterizations of the regulations and testing associated with bottled water.

Bottled water is one of the most regulated products on grocery store shelves with oversight by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Under the Safe Water Drinking Act, FDA regulations for bottled water must be at least as stringent as those imposed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for tap water.

Bottled water is generally required to be tested for the same parameters as tap water, but the standards can be, and in some cases are, stricter than for tap water. In fact, Nestlé Waters North America performs 200 tests on average from every bottling line every day to ensure our products meet the regulatory and quality requirements of the FDA, state and local health authorities as well as our own stringent internal standards.

Gallon for gallon, our bottled water is tested more than 60 times more frequently than most municipal water supplies. Our facilities consistently perform in the top 10 percent of all bottled water companies in the United States, as certified by the National Sanitation Foundation.

Nestlé Waters North America is committed to transparency and to that end, our Water Quality Reports, along with additional quality and testing information, can be found on our website at www.nestle-watersna.com.

You are also welcome to come see me in person to learn more about this during my monthly office hours in Cascade Locks. We are proud of our commitment to testing and quality and I encourage you to read up on the facts of this issue.

David Palais

Nestlé Waters North

America Inc.

Redding, Calif.

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