With financial support from Oregon Legislature, the Port is now fully engaged in preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), an important and lengthy step on the road to replacement of the Hood River Bridge. This effort is the highest priority of the Port Commission and a key focus of staff. But the Port is a complex operation and it must pursue many simultaneous efforts to achieve other important community goals. Perhaps not since the development of the waterfront itself in the ‘60s, or the purchase of the bridge in the ‘50s, has the Port worked on so many projects with significant potential community benefit at once. There are three worth highlighting:
Lower Mill— This 8-acre industrial site was acquired from the Hanel family in 2012. An additional three acres was added in 2016. Major steps have been taken to ready the site for development: the portion that was the mill’s log pond required removal and stockpiling of substantial wood waste and debris. An undersized water supply line required installation of a new pipe the length of Stadelman Drive. A small, isolated wetland required appropriate mitigation. Significant business interest in the property has resulted. The Port has executed an MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) with Neal Creek Forest Products, an interesting twist that could relink a portion of the site to its history in the timber industry.
Ken Jernstedt Airfield—The ongoing success of WAAAM and new aviation business activities have more than justified recent facility upgrades. They include the runway shift in 2012 and upgrades to the south Ramp in 2016. New commercial hangars are planned for the south side. A $1.6 million Connect Oregon VI grant will allow installation of utilities and other infrastructure on the North Ramp. This will mean an opportunity to relocate the Fixed Base Operator FBO building, a long-standing goal, and provide a much more effective platform for both technology companies and emergency services operations, particularly fire-fighting and search & rescue operations.
Lot #1—The largest undeveloped portion of the waterfront presents a unique opportunity to achieve numerous community goals including jobs, pedestrian linkages, quality design and construction, recreational access and others. However, the streets, utilities and public amenities to support the build-out of Lot #1 are sorely lacking and associated costs are high. In conjunction with the City of Hood River, the Port is preparing a “Public Infrastructure Framework Plan” that will describe the type and cost of the needed infrastructure and other public amenities to allow Lot #1 to achieve its future potential as the capstone property on the waterfront.
These major projects, plus many smaller ones, present numerous opportunities for inter-agency cooperation and collaboration. We are grateful for the support we have received at the local, state, and federal levels. The Port Commission always seeks public input and participation in these and all our efforts. Come to the bi-monthly Commission meetings, attend open houses, visit our web site (portofhoodriver.com) for updates, join advisory committees, and let Port staff and Commission know your questions and your thoughts. The Port (beat) goes on.
by Michael McElwee
Port Executive Director