:: Waterfront Rec Committee Mtg 7/20, 2:30pm

The Port’s Waterfront Recreation Committee will reconvene on July 20th to consider public feedback received at their Monday meeting.  Below is CGWA’s written statement to the Waterfront Rec Committee.  Please submit your own, whether written or in person.  Written feedback should be addressed to all of the people below:

  • Michael McElwee, Port Director (mmcelwee@portofhoodriver.com)
  • Laure Borton, Operations Manager (lborton@portofhoodriver.com)
  • Jon Davies, Commission President (jon@columbiariverins.com)
  • CGWA (cgwa@gorge.net).
Port Waterfront Recreation Committee Meeting

  • Date: July 20th
  • Time: 2:30pmpm
  • Location: Port building by the bridge here

Thanks for taking the time to meet on short notice again tomorrow to consider the feedback from yesterday’s meeting.

At this point I’m unclear on what decision is on the table for tomorrow’s meeting- will the committee discuss short term, high water plans, or longterm waterfront re-designations?

If longterm decisions are being considered, I’d like to strongly urge you to take the necessary time to adequately consider all public opinion, not just that which has been rallied on very short notice with little formal notification. Long term Event Site usage as an agenda item came as a surprise, frankly, after CGWA’s proposal for temporary shared use.  We certainly weren’t anticipating it would be made into a permanent situation, without thorough evaluation in a public process. There are a lot of people with emotions, vacations, and businesses on the line, and it would be a rushed decision to make at tomorrow’s meeting. Consideration of long term changes to use-designations should be thoughtful and well researched.

As for this year, a usable sandbar has reappeared and continues to grow. I encourage the Port to return the Event Site to pump & dry as soon as possible.  Per many comments from yesterday, the sandbar is indeed the preferred launch site, and returning the Event Site usage to no launching and landing would dramatically decrease the current pressure and overcrowding.

The CGWA board of Directors went out on a limb with its proposal to open up the Event Site temporarily to kite launching and landing. We are pleased that it went reasonably well prior to the return in full force of our summer visitors. The Board certainly stands to lose a lot of credibility with our membership if our temporary, emergency proposal, suddenly turns into permanent re-designation, in the middle of summer with very little opportunity for public comment.

A significant group of the windsurfers at the Event Site use it as a transition/intermediate level site, as well as a family-friendly place for intermediate kids to windsurf in a safe area in front of the beach.  This is the ONLY beach in the Gorge that is suitable for this intermediate level windsurfer.  The conditions here- easy windsurf launch, sandbar as a “buffer” for drifters, no swells or barges for people who stick to doing half-length reaches- are not reproduced at any of the other advanced launches along the river.  Without it- or when it’s changed to a congested, joint-usage beach- there is no place in the Gorge for these windsurfers to go, and several individuals have told me that they are staying away from the Event Site for now due to congestion.  Their other options are the Hook (very beginner level) or the river (world class advanced level with large swells, barges, big winds).

It is a unique site, and as such merits a thoughtful and thorough deliberation process.

Additionally, while it’s not always crowded or scary as joint-usage, when it is crowded it’s very crowded, very challenging, and very scary for the beginners/intermediates/families.  The kiting community has said that the Event Site launch demands advanced skills for kiters; combine that with the many kids, families, non-wind-savvy spectators, and intermediate windsurfers at the Event Site, add congestion, and now it’s a very intimidating, challenging and potentially very dangerous situation.

I strongly urge the Waterfront Rec Committee to:
  • Delay any decisions on long term use of the waterfront properties until a true public process can take place with adequate time for all perspectives to be considered; and,
  • Consider the waterfront as a whole, not just focusing on the Event Site, for long term usage re-designations.
Thank you.