Dan Spatz, The Dalles City Council

Dan Spatz, center, meets with Dr. Frank Toda, president of Columbia Gorge Community College, and Sen. Ted Ferrioli during a September 2008 ribbon-cutting ceremony at Columbia Gorge Community College’s new Health & Sciences Building.

Dan Spatz, working as your City Councilor in The Dalles, Oregon

Our nation today faces the most significant economic challenge since the Great Depression. While this crisis can only be resolved by leadership at the national level, there are provident steps we can take as a community to position ourselves for economic recovery as quickly as possible.

Here are my goals as a member of The Dalles City Council:

  1. Encourage existing and new businesses in The Dalles
  2. Reindustrialize The Dalles
  3. Build partnerships to improve our quality of life
  4. Support public education
  5. Work to improve public transportation and affordable housing
  6. Ensure that emergency management is fully prepared for a natural disaster.

1. Encourage existing and new businesses in The Dalles.

a. Pursue national designation of The Dalles through the Main Street program, which is designed to rejuvenate traditional downtowns by building upon their inherent cultural and historic qualities. The Dalles abounds in these characteristics; it’s time we capitalize on them. To learn more, I invite you to visit www.mainstreet.org. This past summer The Dalles City Council authorized staff to take the initial steps toward Main Street designation. As a councilor, I supported this decision, and will work toward full recognition as a Main Street city.

b. Work with the property owner of the former Albertson’s store to find a new tenant or tenants as quickly as possible, in order to prevent this space from becoming a vacant blight at an important West Sixth Street intersection.

c. Continue to work with Wasco County and the Oregon National Guard to relocate the Oregon National Guard Armory from the corner of West Sixth and Webber to the college campus, thereby making this county-owned parcel available for retail development. This will create a new source of county revenue and contribute to continued retail development along West Sixth Street.

d. Work with Bonneville Power Administration and Northern Wasco County PUD to find ways to attract continued investment in the information technology sector and allow the Google data center to achieve full build-out, providing an additional source of local family-wage employment.

e. Investigate opportunities to create “vertical residential housing” in the downtown area. This will expand affordable housing in The Dalles while providing rental income for local retailers. A key factor will be the installation of shared elevator space to meet federal design requirements.

f. Develop the city-owned annex on Second Street as a seasonal retail center.

g. Support the public-private partnership that will redevelop the former Sunshine Mill as a major component of the East Gateway area, leading to continued retail expansion and a vibrant business climate. This is a $24 million development, most of which represents private investment, and will attract tourism supporting the growth of new small businesses east of downtown. Adjacent improvement will streamline and simplify the traffic flow from Brewery Grade at the Highway 30 intersection.

h. Continue efforts to develop a First Street outdoor events corridor with adjacent green space, pavilion and cruise ship dock in order to attract visitors from Interstate 84 and regional cruise lines. As councilor, I supported the decision to invest Urban Renewal funds to complete the original design of the Union Street river portal, allowing installation of a computer-controlled lighting display within the walls of the portal. This will create a vivid, lasting first impression of The Dalles for visitors arriving at the dock we will construct at this location, encouraging return visits and the continuing “discovery” of our historic downtown by thousands of future visitors.

i. Market the city in cooperation with the chamber and historical organizations, capitalizing on the “Simply Sunsational” brand developed by the chamber and our unique heritage, as presented in the city’s local historical museums.

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2. Reindustrialize The Dalles

Actively recruit renewable energy industries

a. Coordinate efforts with the Columbia Gorge Bi-State Renewable Energy Zone, a five-county initiative designed to attract major manufacturing, research & development, and production-based renewable energy industries to our region. The Port of The Dalles and Dallesport Industrial Park, owned by the Port of Klickitat, are ideal settings for this development.

b. Send a team to Windpower 2009 in Chicago, one of the largest trade shows in the world, and similar events, to build upon direct contacts which have already been made with these industries and establish additional contacts.

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Actively pursue other clean industries

a. Identify and target other clean industries appropriate to the region and encourage them to locate at Port of The Dalles or Dallesport Industrial Park as a new source of family-wage employment.

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3. Build partnerships to improve our quality of life

a. Work with Northern Wasco Park & Recreation District on a strategy to repair or replace the swimming pool. While this pool is the responsibility of the park district, and not the City of The Dalles, it is nevertheless so closely associated with the city, and such an important public service, that the city must be prepared to do everything in its power to ensure the success of this facility. The function of public parks was once a function of the city, but was separated into a different taxing district in order to better provide for parks upkeep. Given the recent failure of the pool, as well as other parks’ needs, such as a modern irrigation system for Sorosis Park, the city council should initiate a formal dialogue with the parks board and director to identify a strategy to resolve these problems and ensure that the original goals of an independent park district are fully achieved. (For instance, the city and parks should work with the college and the irrigation district to determine whether an affordable water source can be developed for Sorosis Park irrigation. One example: each day we waste thousands of gallons of spring water at Amaton Field, which drains into the city’s stormwater system. Why not save this water by pumping it uphill to a new reservoir above Sorosis Park for use in irrigating the park and the adjacent college campus? Right now, both the park and the campus use treated city drinking water for irrigation – an expensive, wasteful use of a precious resource. The Amaton Field source is untreated and cannot be used for drinking water, but it can certainly be used for irrigation. Today we’re literally sending it down the drain.)

b. Continue to support efforts by the park district, Riverfront Trail organization, US Army Corps of Engineers and Lone Pine developers to complete the remaining segment of Riverfront Trail, and explore the concept of extending the trail westward to the Rowena area as a later phase of trail development.

c. Continue to implement city green space plans that call for linkage of a Mill Creek greenway trail to Thompson Park.

d. Encourage park district development of the 14th Street Reservoir as a new public park, and explore the feasibility of a public tramway from this property uphill to Kelly Viewpoint at Sorosis Park.

e. Build an outdoor bandstand and gazebo in Sorosis Park as a new source of entertainment, in partnership with The Dalles-Wahtonka High School Jazz Band and the community band.

f. Support efforts by the Civic Auditorium to renovate the Civic’s main auditorium, which is the largest indoor venue in the Columbia Gorge with capacity for more than 1,000 people; support the private effort to return the Granada Theatre to regular operation; and work with the owners of the former Elks Lodge building downtown to renovate this historic building and return it to service. Coordinate marketing and planning for these three facilities to create a major events consortium downtown for conferences, tour groups, dances and parties. Use these venues to attract customers to evening activities downtown, which will in turn support expansion of the local retail sector. Explore the feasibility of returning two other downtown events sites – the Second Wasco County Courthouse’s upstairs courtroom, and the Oddfellows Lodge Hall, both of which are still close to their original historic conditions – as potential public event sites. The combination of all these facilities could create a new model for major conferences, integrating conference activities with the local retail community in a truly unique setting which could then be marketed as such to a national and international audience.

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4. Support public education

a. Work with staff of School District 21 to complete the integration of facilities that began with merger of The Dalles and Wahtonka school districts, including identification of long-term facility needs and development of a funding plan to meet these needs. While the school facilities issue is a responsibility of the school board and administration, the outcomes nevertheless affect the City of The Dalles through such issues as the future of Thompson Track and The Dalles-Wahtonka High School. A close working partnership among the school district, park district and city is needed to ensure good coordination of the school facilities planning process with future residential or recreational development in The Dalles.

b. Continue the working partnership with Columbia Gorge Community College to support completion of the campus master plan.

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5. Work to improve public transportation and affordable housing

a. As many of us well understand, these are closely related issues. If you’re on a limited income, chances are you’re having a very difficult time finding affordable housing in The Dalles. You may face the prospect of moving out of town in search of a place to live, which means you’ll be paying a larger share of your income in fuel costs. Conversely, if you live in The Dalles but work elsewhere, you’re still spending far too much on gas. As a city, we need to focus on both of these issues – affordable housing and affordable transportation. We’re tackling the first issue, affordable housing, through our effort to expand the city’s urban growth boundary, which has been artificially locked in place since passage of the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area in 1986. Boundary expansion will allow the city to add about 600 acres of buildable lands to its inventory – land we desperately need for housing as well as commercial and industrial growth. This is not a fast process, however: we face significant opposition by those who do not want to see any changes in the scenic area boundary. Yet Congress intended the boundary to have at least limited flexibility. The question we must answer, in concert with the Columbia River Gorge Commission, is how this process will occur. The Dalles is taking the lead in resolving this issue, and other cities in the scenic area are watching us closely to see how we fare. Meanwhile, current leadership of the gorge commission is approaching the issue with wisdom and diligence, proposing a mediated process to identify and resolve areas of disagreement without the need for expensive, protracted litigation. It’s important that the City of The Dalles continue this dialogue and attempt to achieve a balanced approach that meets the need for long-term growth without sacrificing the natural beauty of the national scenic area.

b. Likewise, we also need to investigate a regional approach to our transportation needs – affordable, non-polluting mass transportation among the major towns and cities of our region. As a nation, we once had such a system: the railroads provided better, more reliable mass transportation in the 1930s than anything we have today. If we could do it then, we can do it now. This is a national issue that will take vision and leadership far beyond anything we’ve witnessed in recent years from Washington, DC, but it can be done. We can start, on a local level, by initiating local passenger rail service between The Dalles and Hood River. As a city, we should promote the resumption of Amtrak service on the Oregon side of the Columbia River Gorge. We should also conduct a thorough examination of the average cost of gasoline prices in our city, which at least appear to be consistently higher than average gas prices in many other cities in our region.

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6. Ensure that emergency management is fully prepared for a natural disaster.

a. Continue current exploration of the feasibility of a coordinated 9-1-1 dispatch center and emergency operations center. Right now our 9-1-1 center is located in an old brick building that was not designed to withstand a major earthquake. It’s also located in the Columbia River floodplain. Our emergency operations center is located in another substandard building. It’s important for our own security, in the event of a major natural disaster, that both of these facilities be located in a modern structure above the river’s floodplain. The solution to this issue may involve a regional approach, since the same issues also confront some of our neighbors. As councilor, I’m working to identify these opportunities for a regional solution that could help spread the cost of a new facility while safeguarding our long-term security in the event of a major emergency.

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To Contact Dan Spatz:

It takes everyone working together to build a vital and vibrant community in The Dalles. Your ideas and opinions are a valuable part of the process. I encourage you to contact me by calling:

     Home phone: 541-298-1508; cell is
     Cell phone: 541-980-9142
     or e-mail me at dspatz8@charter.net.

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