Tuesday, August 5, 2003
No Aspen, Ore.
It’s been 15 years since I visited Aspen, Colo., but I thought of it today when I pulled the Hood River News out of my mailbox and a catalog for luxury shoes, many over $200 a pair, fell out.
Maybe things are different in Aspen today, but I doubt it. The place gave me the creeps. You were expected to be fabulously rich or fabulously poor, working at poverty-level wages to provide services like cleaning luxury hotel rooms or washing dishes in overpriced restaurants. Except for the occasional tourist, there was no middle-class visible anywhere. It was not a healthy place.
Aspen’s gas stations and grocery stores were hidden on back streets but you could buy fur coats in three convenient locations downtown. Resorts were building the modern equivalents of on-site shanty towns because employees couldn’t afford to live within 50 miles of where they worked.
Hood River is still a nice place to live, but a lot of important decisions are being made. Decisions that produce a sustainable, localized economy emphasizing decent wages without dependence on an influx of the extravagantly rich are the right ones. Creating poverty-level jobs isn’t the answer.
I’ll make it easy for you. Creating an Aspen with a mega-store Wal-Mart at its edge is the worst choice possible. Destination resorts are not the answer, either. Keep our schools healthy, spend money so it stays close to home, and make choices that encourage clean, minimal-impact companies to locate and thrive here. Hood River will stay a nice place to live.
Imagine a Super Wal-Mart that is architecturally pleasing to the eye that blends in with the natural scenery in the mid-columbia gorge. What an opportunity for the highly successful Wal-Mart company! Should Wal-Mart take this Hood River confrontation as an opportunity, then this store will mark a turning point for big box architecture. I believe that what many of the dissenters of a new Wal-Mart on Country Club Road are saying is, “Please do not uglify our town with a big box concrete warehouse store flanked by sterile asphalt.”
Wal-Mart and Hood River planners created a store that was a visual asset to Hood River. What if this new super store became a model for a shift away from the old “warehouse look.” Surely Wal-Mart, whose name is now so well known, can make a store that fits design-wise in a rural nature-loving community, without sacrificing brand recognition. Is an ugly store the only way Wal-Mart can advertise itself as a price leader?
I wish everyone shopped for all his or her needs in smaller locally owned businesses in Hood River. But between aggressive developers, and shoppers watching their dollars, I suspect a super Wal-Mart is inevitable. Therefore, I challenge Wal-Mart to give us a new kind of store exterior, one that honors the intent of the Columbia Gorge National Scenic Area. Wadda ya say, Wal-Mart, are you game?
No reason to stay
Last week two pro Wal-Mart letters so proudly stated “I live here and I never go downtown.” (Scott Wimp, Aug. 2) and “If Wal-Mart was not here at all, we would not shop downtown” (Don and Gail Johnson, July 30.)
Small business owners have a different quote, “What goes around, comes around.” If YOU spend money with small businesses, the whole community makes more money, and has more money to spend with other small businesses. It seems Wal-Mart’s quote is “What comes around, we’ll take away to make ourselves richer.” This is very simple small town economics; you MUST have more money coming in than going out.
Sleep well, knowing you have more pride towards shopping Wal-Mart, than you have for the community that you live in. It is no wonder our most talented young people want to leave our small communities when they graduate high school. They have been given little hope growing up here, and have been shown no reason to stay.
I was disappointed to read Peter Van Opel’s letter in the July 30 newspaper, charging Citizens for Responsible Growth with “noisy, unruly and insulting” demeanor during two nights of Planning Commission testimony regarding Wal-Mart’s application to build a 187,000 square-foot supercenter in Hood River.
I must have been at a different hearing. As a member of the CRG board who was in attendance both nights, I was quite proud of the CRG members who spoke. They were polite and they followed the rules, taking their turn, and listening politely while those supporting Wal-Mart spoke. CRG members spoke specifically to the criteria that the Planning Commission must take into account, and did not raise emotional voices in opposition. There were a lot of us, I will admit, and perhaps that made those uncomfortable who support Wal-Mart’s expansion plans. But Wal-Mart supporters were also there, being polite, giving out cookies, waving signs and wearing their blue work vests. I’m glad they were there and I’m glad they spoke. When both sides show up, and one side shares their cookies with the opposition, that’s what I like about America.
The upcoming waterfront ballot measure, courtesy of the citizens for “Responsible” Waterfront Development and the brain child of Lars Bergstrom, Susan Froehlich, and Walter Burkhardt, fails to answer two monumental questions:
First, how is it “open” and “inclusive” that the residents of the City of Hood River get to decide land-use issues for public property that almost everyone in Hood River Valley pays taxes on? That’s right; if you live in Hood River Valley outside city limits, you will be prohibited from having your opinion officially count in November. By the way, that applies to us urban growth residents as well. Initiative driven land use demands that alienate a whole swath of Port district, tax paying citizens? That’s not very responsible.
Second, how do Lars Bergstrom, Susan Froehlich, and Walter Burkhardt suggest us tax payers fund a park which occupies the entire waterfront? I read the petition very carefully and couldn’t find any reference to that question. I went so far as to look on the CRWD Web site and found no ideas or suggestions for funding there either. Initiative driven land used demands with total disregard toward funding? That’s not very responsible as well.
The responsible course of action is to build on the momentum of the Cardinal Glass project which is creating family wage jobs in Hood River Valley. Seeing the economic results of the former Diamond Fruit complex in downtown Hood River due to the collaboration between the City and the Port, it is easy to be optimistic about mixed-use development on the waterfront. There’s enough of “no” in this community. It’s time for our community to be FOR results that continue to foster recreational opportunities while addressing and alleviating our economic woes. Let’s get past this irresponsible ballot measure and move on to successful development of the waterfront.
Richard D. Lee
I have noticed most of the people for the new Wal-Mart do not live in Hood River. The ones that do don’t live on the west side where it will be located.
Regarding our crown jewel, the Hood River waterfront:
On Wednesday, Aug. 13 at 6 p.m. at the old City Hall on the corner of 2nd and State streets, the Hood River City Planning Commission will hold the public hearing on the zoning draft for the waterfront.
The draft states that there will be a 2 to 5-acre park, if the citizens agree to pay for it, somewhere along the Columbia River. There have been inconsistencies regarding the park. For example, the Port Director’s figures last week showed a one-acre park plus a one-acre setback on the Western Power site in contradiction to his map coloring in a park for the entire four acres.
Currently, the draft allows the highest buildings in town on our waterfront just 75 feet from the top of the bank of the Columbia River. On paper 75 feet sounds like an adequate setback but outdoors it is not. (For a comparison the west side of the Luhr Jensen building is 69 feet from the top of the bank of the river.) Only 50 feet of the setback would be public. The other 25 feet would be private. Building heights would be 45 feet, the current maximum for the city, or 54 feet for a hotel.
Please speak up for a minimum 6-acre park on lot 6 just west of Luhr Jensen, a minimum 100-foot public setback for buildings from the river and graduated building heights of 28 feet north of Portway Avenue, 35 feet south of Portway Avenue and 45 feet along I-84.
This is the first time the public has had a chance for input. Please attend and speak up or, if you can’t attend, write the City Planning Commission.
Propaganda; just what I expected at the Port’s “informational” meeting about the waterfront. For example: In their calculations of “open space,” they count roads, parking lots, underwater land, and an inexcessible island! With this “fuzzy math,” they are able to skew the percentage of “open space” in their new proposed development plans to make them seem more palatable.
They have also abandoned years of planning, which recommended a park on Lot 6. With their new plan, they have swapped the proposed park to smaller property situated directly over the city sewer outlet on Lot 7. Oh, and never mind that this land already has a huge building and a concrete slab to remove (at taxpayer expense.)
Typical politics. You have seen it before; you will see it again.
I am writing you in concern to a publication which was placed in the July 29 newspaper under Police Log.
It was in reference to a “client” of ours, “Ink-Spot Tattoo & Body Piercing.” It was stated that the client was unhappy with her tattoo, and the workmanship involved.
I do understand your paper keeps names out of the log when it can harm or endanger a person, but we are the only tattoo shop in Hood River and even printing what you did pointed a finger at us. Let me also say that the whole story was not published. The way that it was published makes us as a local business look incompetent!
We deal with a very touchy industry and our name is everything. We focus mainly on Permanent Cosmetics and Body Piercing. All of our staff are state trained and licensed, which I may add is the most highly regulated and inspected state. Our artist, which happens to be my husband, graduated at the head of his class when he was in training and holds a degree in the Tattooing/Permanent Cosmetics field.
In May 2003, the client came into the shop with a small disfigured tattoo on her finger. She explained that it was an old boyfriends initial. She wanted to know if we could tattoo something over it. We told her that it was in her best interest that she speak with a dermatologist about removal. She insisted on having it done.
She stated that she had lived with this ugly initial long enough. We explained to her that any where that there is not a lot of tissue and the skin is thin (feet, fingers, etc.), that there is an extremely high risk of tattoo “migration” — where the outer perimeter “bleeds” out of the area of application. There are procedures that will remove it. This migration does not always happen, but there is a 80 percent chance of it happening in those particular areas, where as there is a 10 percent chance of it anywhere else. When migration does happen, it takes about two weeks for it to appear. We explained all this to the client in full detail. We are required by the State of Oregon to explain pre and post procedures and any/all risks involved in the procedures being sought. We told her that she would have to sign a separate waiver stating that this was explained to her and that she would pay us in full regardless of the outcome. She agreed, signed all the waivers, and got her Tattoo. I have provided a copy of this waiver with this letter. After her procedure, she said she was “happy” with her Tattoo, paid with a check, and left.
The next day, she called us up and said that she wanted us to hold the check for a couple days because she had overdrawn her account, and she would come in and pay with cash. We agreed to this. We waited a week to deposit the check into our business account. She never returned our calls. After we had deposited the check, we got a phone call from our bank telling us that the owner of the check had put a “stop payment” on it. We went to our bank and picked the check up that the “client” had put a “stop payment” on. We eventually got a chance to discuss the issue with her. We explained that she should pay us or get a “Theft of Services” complaint filed against her, which we have filed with the Hood River Police Department. She exclaimed that she was unhappy with her tattoo because it had migrated. I explained to her that she had been cautioned of this prior to the tattoo being applied, and that she was responsible for paying for the procedure.
Our business has suffered over this and since the release of that press, we have had several customers cancel their appointments. We have put everything we have into starting this business not only financially, but mentally and spiritually as well.
Christee and Phillip Dawson
Thanks to the Hood River windsurfers.
On Friday morning, Aug. 1, I left two pieces of downhauling equipment laying on the lawn at the Event Site, about one foot off the sidewalk and close to the restroom.
These items are about the size of a pocket knife and a hammer, and cost me around $75. I left them there (in my haste to get out on the water) at about 10 a.m. Eight hours later (at 6 p.m.) I remembered what I had done and drove down to the Event Sight. I am delighted to report that they were right where I had left them. I would venture to guess that 1,000 people saw them laying there.
Thanks to a great community of people. Stories like this need to be published!!