Community safety, community infrastructure and community identity continue to be the City of Hood River’s priorities going into 2020.
For the second year, the City of Hood River organized their project goals for the upcoming year as a comprehensive work plan, and City Manager Rachael Fuller presented highlights of that plan to Hood River Rotary during the club’s Feb. 6 meeting.
“All the services that we do, they generally fall into these three buckets,” said Fuller. “Community safety, that’s going to be of your insurance policy, the people who show up when things aren’t looking good; community infrastructure, that’s the database services that really allow us to live in close proximity with each other; and then community identity — who we are, what’s important, and what we’d like our built environment to look like.”
The city is working on addressing the “enormous pressures” put on police and fire services by growing tourism, and adapting those services to meet additional challenges such as wildfire response and homelessness rates. “I think the challenge is to adapt to meet these needs within existing resources and this will be an ongoing community conversation,” Fuller said.
Aging infrastructure is causing problems in the city’s water and sewer lines, as old clay pipes start to break down. “The city council has prioritized this effort on the 2020 workplan and this will be a long-term project,” Fuller said. She added that the city successfully got $1.7 million to help repair a broken stormwater line on the waterfront, but generally, federal and state funding for infrastructure projects is declining, making it harder for cities and developers to fund infrastructure projects.
Other projects going into 2020 include developing a long-term plan to become more energy efficient, a communication and community engagement study, and developing affordable and attainable housing on a seven-acre property the City of Hood River has purchased on Rand Road. Rotary members asked the most questions on this project following Fuller’s presentation; and Fuller said that the city is still working through the details of what the project will look like, but funding — including state money reallocated from the Morrison Park project — has been set aside.
Regarding community identity, Fuller referenced tensions that have “played out in some very divisive ways over the last few years,” partially due to the fact that Oregon’s land use system prioritizes productive farm and forest land, and how that comes into play with a city’s task to provide sufficient housing and jobs within a community. “How cities do this is where there can be a conflict, because these conversations elicit questions about who we are as a community and who we want to be,” said Fuller. “So we’ll need to navigate these conversations together, and that’s hard work, because these conversations are ultimately about deeply-held values, about how people want to live their lives.”
The full 2020 work plan is available online at cityofhoodriver.gov/administration/city-council/hood-river-city-council-goals.