Rather than stand back and let the forces of pro and con sling sticks and stones at each other across the Nichols Boat Basin — “Cable park, YES!” “Cable park, NO!” — two of the elected point people positioned to achieve peaceful resolution have developed a nice olive branch.
Port Commission Chair Jon Davies this afternoon told the Buzz that he and Hood River Mayor Arthur Babitz hope to generate support from their respective bodies for a plan to use urban renewal funds for a Nichols Basin revitalization effort.
In exchange for environmental restoration and visual enhancement — including a pedestrian esplanade linking the Event Site with the eastern terminus of the Port’s walking trail near the Hood River footbridge — the two officials have secured agreement from Naito Development to suspend plans to push forward with their cable park concept.
The park is just one part of plans to develop a hotel, restaurant and office-retail space at the south end of the basin.
“We’re both concerned that this (Nichols Basin dispute) would end in a prolonged legal battle,” Davies said. “It could be very divisive. What we’re proposing is that we take a different direction, in a more positive light.”
By working through Urban Renewal, the city could fund basin improvements with tax revenues generated by increased property value after completion of the proposed Hampton Inn & Suites at the south end of the basin.
The esplanade improvements would augment the Port’s Lot 1 development efforts, and complete the waterfront trail.
Davies said the economic benefit to Lot 1 is just the first of three goals. The vision also includes improved access to the basin for water users, and environmental enhancement to the banks and lagoon itself.
“This is my and Arthur’s idea,” Davies said. “We want to bring it to the Port Commission and Urban Renewal Board.
“And the Naitos would drop the cable park. We’ve asked them to put it on hold, to let the community take an alternative look, that the community can support.”
More details when we have them.