Copied from the Oregon Recreation and Park Association (ORPA) eNewsletter, Dec. 2014
Hood River Valley Parks and Recreation
By Lori Stirn, Director, Hood River Valley Parks and Recreation District,
with contributions by Katie Schumacher, Administrative Assistant, ORPA
In 2006, the Hood River Valley Parks and Recreation District purchased a 31.4-acre pear and apple orchard zoned as High Value Exclusive Farm Use (EFU). This property was purchased for $610,000
with an appraised value of $655,000. The purchase included a tax benefit for the seller as he donated the $45,000 difference in land value. The County Board of Commission gave the Park District a letter of support for this acquisition and subsequent Local Government Grant acquisition grant.
The orchard was leased back to the orchardist until plans were designed for a park that included an open play field, BMX bike course, community garden and dog park as well as other passive recreation elements. The County Planning Commission approved the improvements. The District was awarded another State Parks development grant to implement some site improvements and the open playfields.
A local orchardist appealed the planning decision and eventually the approval was overturned after many months of litigation; through Oregon’s Land Use Board of Appeals, the Hood River Board of Commissioners denied the permit.
Despite the overturn of initial plans the Park District moved forward with a different plan for the land. In addition to the perimeter trail, they learned that Radio Control Flying is an allowed use on EFU (ORS 215.283) and worked with the Local RC flying club -Columbia Gorge Aeromodelers – to make improvements to the open space. The District partnered with the local RC club and purchased the materials needed for the project; the club organized work parties and installed and made the majority of improvements. The team of Roy Petite, Chris Christopher, and Dave Hmiel spearheaded the improvements for the community.
Initially, the group was using a grass runway in 2012, and plans were to install greatly improved landing strip in 2014. Barrett RC Park was installed in July 2014 as a site for flying radio controlled aircraft. Hood River Valley Parks and Recreation RC flying field is 32 acres, with a 300’ geotextile runway aligned with prevailing wind. There is a large pit area on geotextile fabric with a safety fence. The park is open sunrise to sunset and serves more than 100 RC flyers in the Columbia Gorge area. It is located at 4010 Barrett Dr, Hood River, OR 97031.
On November 12, 2014, the Columbia Gorge Aeromodelers adopted Barrett the official flying field for Columbia Gorge Aeromodelers. As a result, club members will be covered by AMA $2 million liability insurance policy. The local club and the Hood River Hobby Shop coordinate events and competitions at the Barrett Park RC Park. It if is an official club event, spectators will also be covered. Most of the Barrett users are not currently AMA members.