‘Good news, it’s not broken’
“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” The proponents for Measure 14-67 (“Protect Our Parks”) have spent plenty of money for a slick, big-business-type campaign to convince all of us that the future of our parks is in danger from deceitful city officials. One reason to believe them is that, “The city recently took action in a closed-door meeting to sell a 5-acre park for $1.” This is their statement and it’s not true. But if it were true, the proponents could have: (a) filed a law suit in circuit court, (b) petitioned for a recall election of council members, (c) filed an action with Oregon Government Ethics Commission, and/or (d) petition the Oregon Attorney General for a Public Records Order for the minutes of the supposed meeting. They did file a lawsuit and prevailed. Congratulations. But that suit had nothing to do with the city deceit they now claim.
 
Vic Pavlenko
Hood River
 
Keep going
“Our adult center’s getting really good!” as said to Gary Young. It sounds a little bit loud when we really mean it; plus, the sounds from the professional company who were enlarging the system for the stage ran a fair second.
 
But big sound and great lights could be said to make up just a small part of the reasons more than one of us now has so much enthusiasm for the success that’s growing from the center’s mission list.
 
I’d invite you to pick up the big, colorful list, visit at 210 Sterling Place (lunch would be a good time) and use it for an inspiring bookmark. One can see the necessary and vital needs that seniors have: Not just the list, but the ways that we are going to meet them.
 
It would not be surprising if your jaw dropped when you give attention to all of the intents that we take on in this mission.
 
My jaw dropped the second time I looked at these real goals. What, seriously, would each one take, to do it! Gasp, culture is one objective.
 
Example: Before husband, Bill, took me to see “Cell” on stage at the Adult Center Theater, we had questions about how immigration’s being handled now. The play had done well in New York, but Hood River culture is special. Rewrites also included Spanish folks in the entire cast, and they all had actual immigration experience … and so on … a lot for our consideration, fellow citizens. “Cell’s” excellent author was present, as were thespian and spiritual writing locals with experience.
 
I’ve not even begun to give you examples from the library, the art gallery, the kitchen, the hikes, Tai Chi, favorite games, live music, instances of free legal assistance, the thrift shop with professionals from city stores with impeccable marketing …
 
It’d be very hard not to feel the respect for Amy, our executive director, for board members who donate their skills every month of the year. One can feel the dedication to the list of values for the Hood River Valley Adult Center — phenomenal.
 
Donna Grey-Davis
Hood River
 
Yes on 14-67
Assuming the need for affordable housing, destroying existing city parks is not the answer. Morrison Park (some people call it “Tax Lot 700” in what appears to be an attempt to mislead people) provides valuable wildlife habitat, a green corridor for animal movement, and recreational opportunities for city residents and visitors. Moreover, the attempted sale of Morrison Park to a developer for $1 is particularly egregious given the county’s recent closing of various county parks due to alleged budget constraints.
 
The development of any portion of Morrison Park into a housing project is violative of Oregon state law and an incompatible use pursuant to Goals 2 and 8 of the Hood River Comprehensive Plan. The city has already been taken to court and lost in litigation in the Oregon Court of Appeals. The Oregon Court of Appeals referred to the city’s interpretation of Goal 8 - Policy 1 as “implausible when considering the text and context of the policy.” The contention that a private residential use is compatible with a public park used for recreation is equally implausible. Clearly, the two uses (private housing project vs. public park) are antithetical and “incompatible” within the meaning of Goal 8/Policy 1. Despite the foregoing, city government officials continue to waste valuable time and money in their ongoing attempts to develop Morrison Park. Worst of all, the attempted destruction of Morrison Park establishes a terrible precedent for the destruction of more city parks.
 
Based on elected city officials ongoing conduct, it appears that public hearings and testimony are mere hollow formalities held only to meet necessary legal requirements, while citizen viewpoints counter to elected officials are summarily ignored. Past experience has taught that appeals to the rule of law, logic, reason, and common sense will fall on deaf ears. The city has already wasted valuable time and taxpayer dollars litigating an untenable position and are clearly intent on repeating their folly. Citizens of Hood River deserve to have a say in what happens to our parks. Accordingly, I encourage fellow citizens to vote yes on Measure 14-67.
 
J. Andrew Weerts
Hood River
 
Don’t be fooled
The recently-created special interest group behind ballot initiative 14-67 has made one thing clear — they don’t think you are smart enough to understand how local government works. They have told you “this is about saving parks,” because they want you to think that’s true. I get it ... it’s an “easy” message. They also want you to think that somehow our current city representatives are corrupt and self-serving. Don’t be fooled. This initiative, if it passes, will open the door for any special interest group (funded by who knows what or who) to try and change our city “constitution” for any reason they see fit. It will create more bureaucracy in our city processes and could drain thousands of tax dollars for printing and postage fees to deliver ballots so we can vote on literally anything and everything. We already vote to choose who represents us in the city council and other local positions. I may not love everyone who wins these races, but I certainly believe that you and I are smart enough to elect people who make reasonable decisions. If you don’t like what is going on in this city, then educate yourself and maybe even run for office. Come to the city meetings and give your testimony on issues. It does matter. If our elected officials make stupid choices, we can recall them and vote to elect better ones. That seems like enough of a vote to me. This ballot measure wants to hijack how we make choices for the future of our city. That’s why I am voting no on 14-67.
 
Kate Hoffman
Hood River
 
Honor process
Do you trust the Hood River City Council? This isn’t a personal question about the character of the current city council — the question is whether you trust the city council for now and forever? Who knows who will be on the city council in years to come? Giving parks away for next-to-free to real-estate developers without the direct consent of the residents of Hood River creates a situation where back-room dirty deals between politicians and developers are more likely to happen. Eliminating parks is irreversible — once sold they are gone! Let’s make sure that we don’t lose our parks — or if it does happen, we all have a chance to choose it. Vote yes on 14-67.
 
Michael Sprague
Hood River
 
Yes on 14-67
Megan Saunders in her Oct. 12 Another Voice makes the point that we need to protect the democratic process and let elected officials decide what’s best (for parks). In theory she is correct and I agree with the democratic process when it’s working. Especially when it’s working to protect our parks. Unfortunately the points made in the article are generalities and don’t relate to how parks can be protected or what happened in the Morrison Park situation. This ballot measure grew out of citizens’ frustrations that elected officials didn’t protect park land with the Morrison Park decision. Stating “while we all value parks” is disingenuous as that didn’t happen with the Morrison Park decision.
 
In addition to that decision, there is a history of city officials allowing park lands to be used for private and non-park purposes. Elliott Park on Indian Creek corridor was dedicated in 1911 to be used as a public park “forever.” Yet in 2004, the city allowed construction of a large storm drain right through the middle of the park destroying native vegetation and open space character.
 
In 2003 the city gave permanent rights to a portion of Waucoma Park to an adjacent landowner. A group of citizens objected to this illegal action and the city pulled back its approval to transfer the land rights. And the city under previous administrations has tried to sell off park/open space lands to generate income.
 
These illustrate that city officials don’t always do what is best to protect parks and open space. Parks and open space lands once developed are unlikely to be returned to park/open space. Park/open space lands are important for people, wildlife, and native vegetation habitat. Large trees such as on Morrison Park help to cool our earth.
 
Councilors may feel the Morrison Park decision balanced competing needs. But the decision did not serve the best interests of the community in the long run.
Parks/open space lands must be protected forever—our need for that precious resource will only grow. Vote yes to protect parks/open space.
 
Jurgen Hess
Hood River
 
Editor’s note: Jurgen Hess is the former chair of the Hood River City Planning Commission, an advocate for conservation and volunteer working on restoration of sites on Indian Creek and Waucoma Park.
 
Let electorate decide
As a former city councilor and founder of the Waterfront Community Park Association, I have a passion for both local politics and parks and support 14-17.
 
I appreciate all the work our elected officials do and thank them. I also know difficult decisions must be made, testimony and staff reports are given, and timely decisions that will hold up to legal scrutiny are needed quickly.
 
Many times, not enough citizens participate, or even know what the current issues are or are unaware of how they will affect our community. Getting the public engaged and providing a transparent process is a constant goal and challenge.
 
The opposition to this measure, especially by some elected officials, surprises me. I understand wanting to “get business done” but for rare decisions like, major tax increases, bond measures and park land sales, I would hope they would welcome the electorate’s guidance to get the outcome the voters want.  
 
If I were on council, making decisions as important as selling or giving away public parklands, I would welcome our electorate’s support.     
 
The Waterfront Park in fact was the outcome of a controversial public initiative that passed by 67 percent of the city voters. The port donated the land to the city with several requirements. It took work by the city, the port and many volunteers to fulfill that vision, and it was not a perfect process. Politics can be messy but outcomes like the Waterfront are the reward.
 
Public parks are among the community’s most valuable assets and we should welcome guidance from all citizens in this vision for Hood River’s future.
This measure does not affect any other city policy decisions, or any other property except parks. A decision like this should not be made quickly; Morrison Park has been in the works since 2016.  A vote could have resolved this issue two years ago. The city has not been able to afford new parkland for a long time, so why give it away for $1. Thankfully, 99 percent of our city parks were gifts from local citizens, so we are very lucky. I believe it is critical to let us all have an opportunity to decide how we dispose of, or use, our parks. 
 
Ann Frodel
Hood River
 
Mitigate consequences
I’m voting no on the parks issue, because it ties the hands of elected officials without any positive effect for either parks or people.
 
I offer workshops for conservatives and liberals to learn communication techniques to have conversations that keep going. I, a liberal, have developed good relationships with some conservatives, and had many conversations. I’ve learned that conservatives often wonder why liberals say they care about the poor, the lower middle class, and the middle class, while acting in ways that hurt them.
 
Liberals sometimes promote their good environmental values in ways that cause suffering for people with fewer resources. The liberals promoting their good values either do not foresee the consequences on people with fewer resources, or they know there are consequences, but do little to mitigate them. This puzzles conservatives, who can’t connect the strong social (people) values, with actions that cause suffering for people.
 
The Morrison Park/Lot 700 issue was a good example of this. People with stable housing opposed stable housing for people without, because they value open space and parks. Because of their opposition, dozens of families and individuals who would have benefited from stable housing and an improved, but smaller, park, may never have another chance for stable housing.
 
I think this is one of the reasons our country elected Donald Trump. Many people with few resources feel powerless to defend themselves from the actions of liberals that cause them suffering. Having no recourse, they turned in hope to someone who offered them power.
 
As a liberal, I want to take responsibility for consequences. I want to not only notice how my values and actions will affect others, but do something to mitigate those effects.
 
Heidi Venture
Hood River

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(2) comments

gabrielalj

Kate Hoffman: Different from what you are saying, I trust our public to propose charter amendments, because I think they/we are "smart enough". If you don't trust them to exercise their right guaranteed since 1902 in Oregon, then who is the one who does not trust our people?

gabrielalj

Vic Pavlenko: 1) Our "big-business-type campaign" as you describe is the result of work of many many citizens who volunteer, and donate their time and some donate funds. There is no "business" behind.

2) The statement that "the city recently took action in a closed-door meeting to sell a 5-acre park for $1" is actually very true. The City Council held a meeting on March 6, 2018. The only items on the agenda were a call to order and an executive session to discuss “real property transactions.” The public isn’t allowed to attend executive sessions to ensure secrecy.

A City is not allowed to make decisions in executive session, but needs to make them in public view. A public hearing has to be held if a city proposes to sell publicly-owned real property.

Nevertheless, that same day, March 6, the city signed an agreement which committed it to sell a 5-acre city park for $1 on fulfillment of certain conditions.

What happened during that executive session? We have to guess. That’s not transparent. It’s not how things are supposed to be done. If you don’t like the city’s version of transparent government, vote yes on Measure 14-67.

For more information and PDF’s of materials documenting these statements, please see the Protect Our Parks website at www.protectourparkshoodriver.com/FAQ

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