As of Friday, May 2, 2014
On March 19, 2007, Hood River County Commissioners, including Ron Rivers and Les Perkins, who sit on the Commission now, signed a letter of support for Hood River Valley Parks and Recreation District in support of a grant to acquire the land now known as Barrett Park. The letter said, “Hood River County Board of Commissioners supports the Hood River Valley Parks and Recreation District in their pursuit of a grant to acquire land for future park expansion.”
This was not general support to acquire some unspecified property, but was support for a grant to acquire 4010 Barrett Drive specifically (address of Barrett Park). That letter convinced the Parks and Rec Board and staff to pursue funding to acquire that land and park expansion.
Fast forward to 2013 when those same county commissioners, Ron Rivers and Les Perkins, turned their back on the very support that they had promised in writing. They pulled their support because Mr. von Lubken argued that the traffic generated by Barrett Park would significantly impact his farming practices.
Unfortunately, what they have really created, instead of a park, is a significant conflict. They have emboldened the Hood River Valley Residents Committee to attack the Parks and Rec District through letters to the newspaper and other organizations as though they are conspiring to take down the valley’s agricultural industry by developing high-density condos instead of three terraced, flat, well-maintained useable grassy areas in a community park.
The Residents Committee suggest that selling Barrett Park and buying more expensive urban land is the answer to the ballpark issue. They failed to point out exactly where a 31.4-acre, or similar-sized plot of land exists in the urban area that is for sale or even has enough open space. I checked; nothing of that size or near it, is on the market. In any case, a park on urban land would be considerably smaller and incredibly more expensive.
Three open playing fields does not solve the ball field problem, but it does help alleviate it. And regardless of what the Residents Committee says, open playing fields are allowed on EFU land.
I applaud the Parks and Rec District for taking the long view when considering what to do about Barrett Park. Obviously, County Commissioners can change their minds. Or newly elected commissioners may have a different view about traffic flow and what is best for the whole community.
Conditional permits can be reapplied for in the future. By the way, three of the four County Commissioners who voted against the park are up for re-election in November. Not sure if anyone is running against them, but as Ron Rivers can tell you, there is always the write-in campaign.
Peg Bogard lives in Hood River.