By JACQUIE BROWN BARONE
The Port of Hood River has the opportunity to make a huge economic impact on the community. Is it more viable for them to support a single use, small demographic business such as the Cable Park or does it make more sense to support a multiple of users and keep the Hood River Boat Basin open to the public?
The Port is also in the process of brainstorming ideas to develop the west side of the basin. This eye sore, chain linked, dusty property is a gem in the rough. However; several businesses (kayak, windsurfing and SUP rentals/lessons) could soon be replaced for the single use of a cable park. Is this the way to support local businesses who have worked hard to get where they are today amidst the rough conditions? Shouldn’t we be supporting them in making their businesses stronger?
This long stretch between the current gas station to the event site could become an incredible commercial/retail and recreational link between downtown Hood River and the waterfront. With the increased use of the waterfront (thanks to the waterfront park and port trails) this area is ready to explode with even more popularity. But how we develop this area is crucial. Once a cable park goes in, that’s all it can be. No public access.
But imagine with many water recreational uses what it can become. It can be a place for all genders, all ages, of all economic and cultural sectors of the community to enjoy. From the two-year-old learning to swim to grandma who wants to enjoy a coffee or shop while watching the family play in the water. It’s an opportunity to create an economic link to downtown, increasing foot traffic to and from the downtown core benefiting recreational businesses as well as shops, restaurants and lodging facilities.
The Naito Hotel and commercial space that is proposed at the south end of the basin including a restaurant is the beginning of making this rough gem economically viable. These businesses proposed would also be much better off economically if the basin were open to the public versus the single use proposed cable park.
Imagine the Port creating more friendly water access along the west side, creating small docks, public board and boat storage for rent along the waters edge, more commercial and retail space for shops, rentals, cafes, breweries, massage studios, offices etc., and a boardwalk and walkways linking the current trails.
The boat basin is one of the few safe protected waters on the Columbia close to a city center where you don’t need to be a high wind sport junkie to enjoy. What happens in the water will dictate what happens on the land to the west of the boat basin. It is important to the community and the developers of the south end of the basin to support multiple use and keeping the boat basin open to public. It just makes more economic sense.
Say no to a cable park and support economic vitality.
Jacquie Brown-Barone is a residential and commercial developer and resident for over 20 years.