- Written by Ben Jacklet
- Category: Resorts
- Published: November 19, 2014
- Last Updated: November 23, 2014
After facing strong opposition at a community hearing, Mt. Hood Meadows has rescinded its plan to develop a 179-parking-space park-and-ride across the street from the Mt. Hood General Store on Highway 35.
In a Nov. 17 letter to Hood River County Planning Director Mike Benedict, Meadows President Matthew Drake and Vice President of Operations and Administration Jake Bolland wrote, “We now understand that, while our proposed use of the property at the corner of Cooper Spur Road is an allowed commercial use, our proposal does not meet the broader needs and hopes of the local community. Accordingly, we hereby rescind our application.”
Meadows had intended to buy the property and convert it into a park-and-ride for employees, and for guests to use on peak winter days when parking lots at the resort fill up quickly. A park-and-ride would probably result in fewer cars on the road, less air pollution, fewer accidents and less burning of fossil fuel. But the local community objected to the plan with concerns that the property would be unsightly and a potential traffic hazard, and would hurt future plans for year-round development in the area.
As Ben Mitchell of the Hood River News has reported in a series of articles, the Meadows park-and-ride plan was downsized in August, approved by the Hood River Planning Department in October, and appealed unsuccessfully by local resident Libby Rossknecht, owner of the nearby Mt. Hood Guest House.
A November 12 public hearing brought heavy criticism of the process and compelled Meadows to drop the matter for now. Meadows spokesman Dave Tragethon says the plan for this winter is to use the Mt. Hood General Store on Hwy. 35 as a park-and-ride during the busiest days of winter, as in years past.
Meadows will also forge ahead with its plan to add parking spaces and other transportation amenities to the property it leases on Mount Hood from the Forest Service, Tragethon added, but the usual bureaucratic hurdles are likely to keep that project tied up for at least two or three years.
Meanwhile, the population of Portland and Hood River continue to grow, as does the popularity of Mount Hood as a destination for locals and visitors. Transportation planners have been studying transit options on the mountain for years, but other than the successful new Mt. Hood Express bus line to Timberline, progress has come slowly. Among the projects under consideration are an aerial tram or gondola connecting Skibowl, Government Camp and Timberline Lodge, new park-and-rides linked by shuttle buses, a webpage for travelers with weather, incidents, parking and ride-share info and more (hmmm... something like shredhood.org?), and various bicycle improvements.
But any new transit option, even the most mundane, will be a major challenge to build.
Here is the full text of the letter from Mt. Hood Meadows to Hood River County: