Lot 1 planning back in gear

The Port of Hood River is getting the ball rolling again on Lot 1 planning.

Last May the Port of Hood River held its first public meeting on planning for Lot 1. The light industrial property just south of the Hood River Event Site is considered by the Port to be the “capstone” of the waterfront.

Most major discussions about the property were derailed through the summer by controversy surrounding a proposal to place a recreational cable park in the Nichols Boat basin, but Port Executive Director Michael McElwee said the Port is now getting back on track for an 18-month planning process.

At its meeting in May 2012, the Port received a presentation from planning firm Group Mackenzie on conceptual plans for the area. McElwee said the preliminary concept plan, available on the Port’s website at http://bit.ly/YfsTYq will serve as the “baseline” for the discussion to come over the next 18-months.

During a meeting of the Port Commission Feb. 19, Port staff laid out a proposed timeline for actions to be taken over the next 18 months to prepare the site for development.

McElwee said he is hopeful that the process for Lot 1 can follow a similar model to that of the cable park hearings the Port conducted through the summer and into the fall.

“We want to be rigorously seeking public input and invite in specific guests from a developer standpoint, environmental standpoint, recreational standpoint and others, and have a good discussion,” McElwee said this week.

The Port intends to take steps over the next 18 months addressing technical, policy, planning, regulatory and public involvement issues.

Among the key issues, the Port is seeking public input about vehicle access to the Nichols basin, zoning and what type of development the Port should conduct within Lot 1. It will also address height and density parameters for that development.

In the document the Port staff prepared for the commission, the Port also pledged to post all information regarding lot 1 planning and proposals on its website.

By April the Port hopes to have completed a detailed site survey. Over the summer it hopes to conduct environmental evaluations of the site as well as a geotechnical investigation and a storm water assessment. It also intends to refine development and design guidelines, and a sale/lease policy over the summer.

McElwee hopes that the process will lead to a better understanding of what will work on Lot 1.

“What are the specific development objectives that we, the community, the public, are seeking here?” McElwee said of the question to be answered through the development and design guidelines.

While the Port is hoping to have the site ready to move forward for development at the end of the 18-month input and planning process, McElwee said it will still be sometime before the build out of the site and infrastructure improvements are ready.

“The infrastructure and financing is a very daunting hurdle,” he said. “We are looking at another 5 to 10 years before it blossoms.”

According to the timeline put before the Port Commission Tuesday, a Port/City/Public Advisory Group on Lot 1 planning and development will begin meeting in May and stakeholder meetings will be held over the summer.

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