Wednesday, April 16, 2003
Priority to protect
After attending the April 9 Planning Commission work session regarding Goal 8, I am concerned that a few of the planning commissioners did not hear what 85 percent of those who testified at the three hearings were concerned about. One planning commissioner wants to get working on the rules regulating the design, architecture, and aesthetics of the destination resort to be built on the flanks of Mt. Hood. Has a destination resort already been approved? I hope the other planning commissioners remind him that protection of the farms, forests, drinking and irrigation water, and wildlife are the priorities.
Just when I think my disgust at our “leaders” arrogance is complete, Rummy, Shrub & Co. manage to push it further. Perhaps the greatest non-humanitarian tragedy of this conflict is now coming to light: the looting and destruction of the Iraqi National Museum. Priceless antiquities — treasures dating back 7,000 years are either gone or lie smashed on the museum floor. To say this is “none of our business” is flat wrong. We are the occupying force. We are in charge. By the rules of the Geneva Convention, about which we howled when our prisoners were taken, we are responsible for civil order. How much press was given to our extensive preparations to handle civil order and authority? How many stories appeared regarding our extensive preparations to protect the treasures belonging to all humankind? Apparently, this was simply PR. We blew it, plain and simple.
I stand ashamed, not of my country but of what we’ve let this appointed president and his henchmen do in our name. Let me be clear: I love this country. For all its faults, the American experiment is still the fairest, most open version of civil society yet devised (although Ashcroft seems determined to change this, too). And I’m no super-peacenik. War is rarely the best option. But sometimes it is the only one. However, this was certainly not one of those times.
So, let’s check the score so far: they’ve created a deep split in American society, alienated most of the world, killed hundreds of Iraqi civilians and thousands of Iraqi soldiers (in what has basically been a turkey shoot), turned thousands of our men and women into killers (a psychological scar that will not heal quickly for these mostly young people) and stood idly by while gangs of thieves ravaged the country, all while allowing our economy to languish and letting the deficit spiral out of control. Nice work by an unelected administration. Regime change begins at home. Next year, let’s make sure they are truly unelected.
Keep port park
After a seemingly sleepy winter, I was informed that the Port Commission had not been so sleepy but had rather been working to revise the previously proposed waterfront plan. I was a bit confused when I heard this, as none of these industrious plans had been mentioned in the Port Meeting minutes or in the Hood River News (until recently).Where had all of this taken place I wondered? I found out that these “revisions” had taken place in “work” sessions, where written minutes are not kept. And then I wondered why, as the waterfront is a most important area for most of Hood River County residents and surely the public should be kept informed of plans that dramatically impact this jewel. Didn’t we already have a plan?
And then I attended the joint meeting of the City Council and the Port Commission on April 7. It is no longer a surprise to me why the Port did not make their plans public. At this meeting, the Port Commission proposed the following:
1. Changing the previously proposed park on Lot 6 to Lot 7. At first, this does not seem to be such a big deal until you consider that Lot 7 is much smaller than Lot 6 (3-4 acres compared to 7 acres). Moreover, a park would be built on Lot 7 ONLY if funding can be found, the sewer plant is fixed, environmental clean-up of the toxicity from Western Power is accomplished, and the demolition of the building is completed: all proposed to be financed in the form of a bond from increased taxes on the public. This would be a much bigger cost to all of us and would take many years to fund, and thus the park would not be built for a long while. Lot 6, on the other hand, is basically ready to go as a park. The cost to establish this would be significantly less and would benefit more residents, much sooner.
The Port proposed building a hotel or high density housing on Lot 6, thus the reason for giving us a smaller park.
2. Changing the height standard for buildings placed directly on the waterfront to 50-60 feet. This would then make those buildings the highest in Hood River, as the current building standard is 45 feet. The Port has proposed building a hotel/high density housing on Lot 6 and the request for change in height would be for this building and Lot 1.
3. Changing the building construction setback from the current plan of 75 feet, to 25 feet from the water’s bank. This would make buildings constructed right on the bank of the Columbia River with miniscule green space between the river and the building.
These three issues (and there will be more) can have a tremendous impact on the quality of the waterfront for everyone. My opinions: keep Lot 6 for everyone’s park, which could be developed very soon and without toxic residues. Maintain the current height standards, which will minimize obstructed views of the mighty Columbia for everyone. Maintain current building setbacks of 75 feet, so that no one will feel that they are imposing on anyone’s property as they walk, stroll or recreate along the length of the river. And develop the waterfront with the residents’ input as a guide, in open sessions, with published minutes of proposed changes.
So what if it took the threat of perjury to get three of our county commissioners, the county planners, the owners and managers of Mt. Hood Meadows, and members of the Forest Service to produce the documents that prove the land trade between the county and Mt. Hood Meadows was initiated by Meadows approaching the county with their plans for a destination resort? So what if the county planners and commissioners meant there were no final blueprints of each unit, when they said there were no plans for a resort? So what if they are continuing to bend over backwards to increase the number of seasonally unemployed minimum wage workers, create the need for a $5 million drinking water filter, pollute and diminish the water available for irrigating farms, and reduce the options for quality outdoor recreation that draw the tourist dollars to the destination resort of Hood River? GreenPreach is cheap. The activities of Mt. Hood Meadows are what you should evaluate. Go see the Sustaining that has been going on at Cooper Spur Ski Area.
Check out the bulldozer work they have already done to Sustain the Slopes at Cooper Spur. The topsoil slid into the parking lot, and there are no plants, mosses, wildflowers, small trees, or anything else growing in those areas. Downhill, the amount of erosion from only one season of abuse in this low-snow year is stupendous. The damage is being done to Sustain Meadows’ real estate expansion into sensitive areas. The ditches Meadows digs across the hillsides try to get the runoff into the woods where vegetation might trap the soils. Picture the results of applying this heavy-handed approach to Sustaining Meadows occurring up in the alpine, through the Tilly Jane, at Cloud Cap, and into the rest of the watershed from which we drink. Then tell your county commissioner, your state senator, your governor, and the new crew of Meadows’ own GreenPreach Activists, that a destination resort is bad business for Hood River County. Before you make up YOUR mind about the resort, go see the damage Sustained by the Slopes of Cooper Spur.
Last Wednesday, as President of the Hood River Valley Residents’ Committee (HRVRC), I attended a meeting of the Hood River County Planning Commission. During that meeting the Commission considered plans presented by Pasquale and Jaquie Barone for a residential planned unit development on west May Street.
The care, hard work and results of the Barones’ efforts represent an excellent approach to development that our community needs. The Barones are obviously continuing the kind of development that characterized their renovation of the Hood River Hotel.
The May Street plans combine good use of land with the retention of wetlands, open space and the semi-rural nature of the location. Sidewalks, internal walking paths, intelligent use of narrow roads and specified on-street parking are some of the well-designed features. Varied density, mixed sizes and types of lots and housing, clever building orientation, and careful attention to landscaping are additional amenities.
The HRVRC commends this type of development and hopes that other builders will follow suit in trying to enhance our urban spaces.
For many years the U.S. military has spent billions of dollars and countless hours developing weapons of minimal destruction. With our new laser guided and space guided weapons we are able to target a building, kill its people, and leave the surrounding neighborhood and its people relatively untouched.
Never before have we been able to project the millitary might of America while doing so little damage to that county’s infrastructure and population. In years past the U.S. “carpet bombed” cities to achieve the same goals as in the war to liberate Iraq. This massive slaughter of innocent civilians by the military was not the result of a wish to kill as many people as possible as Bob Williams (letters, April 12, 2003) seems to think. He gives credit to the peace movement for this new technological direction of the military. If he wishes to feel this way, so be it. But it is a little like the rooster taking credit for the sun coming up.