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Letters to the editor for July 26

Protect our trees

July 16 was a sad day on Wilson Street. We awoke at 7:15 to chainsaws. By lunchtime, two majestic Black Walnut trees were laying in pieces on the ground. These street trees had a huge canopy that dominated the middle of Wilson Street. They provided shade, habitat, a link to Hood River’s heritage and aesthetic beauty. How did this happen?

In January 2014, I received notice of a pending proposal nearby to construct four new dwellings. I wrote the City supporting the PUD proposal, which could provide affordable housing. I asked them to preserve these trees as a condition of the permit. I cited parts of the City’s Code that call for protecting significant trees and a site’s natural character.

At the March 17, 2014, Planning Commission hearing, City staff told the Commission the trees wouldn’t survive excavation for the 5-foot sidewalk, but they would be willing to look at viable options to preserve these trees. The Planning Commission voted 3-0 (1 abstention) to strongly recommend that the City Engineer work with an arboriculturalist to save the trees and design a narrower sidewalk.

On April 1, 2014, a local tree service provided the City a “Risk Assessment,” which concluded “Both trees should be removed because they are not trimmable trees and pose a risk to pedestrians and homeowners.” This same tree service was hired by the developer to fell these trees. Staff informed me that no evaluation of alternative sidewalk designs was done, and the person who wrote the Risk Assessment was not an arboriculturalist.

I recently asked a certified arboriculturalist if he could assess the health and safety of the trees. He concluded that one tree was healthy and the other tree had a fungus common to local Walnuts. He stated the trees were in fair to good condition, and that the east tree could have been pruned of its dead wood and its fungus was treatable. I shared his report with the City. Anyone inspecting the downed wood could see it was sound.

City staff did not implement the Planning Commission’s direction. Our neighborhood lost an irreplaceable (in our lifetimes) asset. I hope the City acts to protect our heritage trees and prevent such a needless loss from happening again.

Brian Litt

Hood River

Don’t sell waterfront

I see the Hood River County Port Commission has voted to sell a very valuable waterfront parcel on Portway Avenue to a private developer for a retail center. It’s a huge mistake.

Don’t sell the waterfront legacy to build another retail center. I do not oppose the development of retail on the waterfront. Clearly the experience with Pfriem and Solstice have demonstrated the demand year round for such facilities in this town. What I do oppose is selling the land to the developer. Under NO circumstances should the Port consider selling the land. This merely places in the hands of private parties what should be a lasting financial legacy to our entire county. The land should only be developed under a long term (not more than 10 year renewable lease) basis. The Port owes it to the community to think of a lasting financial future. Placing the most valuable land in the City and County in the hands of private developers is a short sighted move for immediate gain at the expense of many future generations of Hood River County residents. I urge all who read this to think beyond the immediate gain.

What will this land be worth 30 years from now? Fifty or one hundred years from now? By selling now, or ever, the Port loses the potential for a lasting financial legacy. Negotiate a reasonable lease in lieu of sale. Go ahead. But do not sell out our future for a paltry 1.26 million dollars. Lease it so that the community gets an annual return commensurate with its ever increasing value.

Stephen Schneider

Parkdale

Free parking for all

My wife insisted we go on safari so to speak. Drove around Oregon for a week give or take. Went down 26 to 97 through Warm Springs, Madras, Terrebonne and Bend. I cannot recall all the towns we stopped in but Ashland, Medford and Jacksonville come to mind. Wonderful places. Oregon is beautiful. The thing is, that all these places had something in common that I thought was unusual until I’d been there.

Free parking. I dunno what they’re doin’, but Hood River could use some of it.

Arthur Chenoweth

Hood River

Thanks for Lyme articles

As I answer more and more phone calls from residents and visitors of the Columbia River Gorge who were bitten by a tick and are concerned about Lyme disease, I am grateful to the Hood River News for publishing Mary Jane Heppe’s two-part article on this subject.

For anyone who missed these articles, they (along with others from years past) can be found by Googling Hood River News/Lyme disease.

Thanks again, Hood River News, for helping us raise awareness.

Elaine Walker

Mid-Columbia Lyme

Support Group

Hood River

Informed caveman

My cave has Internet access, newspaper delivery, and satellite TV. I feel rather informed about the issues facing our country and how POTUS, Congress, and the senate have dealt with immigration, healthcare, Veterans Affairs, and protecting our country.

Most media sources agree none of the above groups either caused or solved any of the problems cited in Mr. Roger Neufeldt’s July 23 letter “Only One Question.” I, however, do not feel any hatred or spite toward any American having an opinion about these issues or what they are doing to resolve them. A look back through ANY media source, including Fox News, will reveal the aforementioned issues have been around for many years.

We seem to have three factions in our country. The smallest group seeks to solve problems through compromise and hard work, neglecting party affiliation and personal agenda to do so. The second group consistently blocks any adversary from accomplishing anything simply because they disagree on principle full stop. The third group align themselves with their party to play contrarian to fight the other party on each and every issue.

I support POTUS despite disagreeing with some of his decisions and behaviors. Thanks to his ineptitude, arrogance, divisiveness, and stupidity, we have not: bombed Russia, bombed Syria, bombed Iraq, or kept thousands of servicemen in harm’s way. I am also thankful we will have thousands less veterans with irreparable physical and psychological damage we cannot effectively or afford to treat under a POTUS from either party.

Steve Kaplan

Hood River

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