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Mayor's Corner: Sports add value

On Friday, Aug. 2, I attended a bike ride called “Voyage of the Visionaries,” sponsored by ODOT, Travel Oregon and others.

The ride began at the Corbett School with stops at the Portland Women’s Forum, a facility overlooking the beautiful Columbia River Gorge, Wahkeena Falls, the J.B. Yeon Trail Head and ended in Cascade Locks.

The theme was Remember, Restore and Reconnect. Remember the Columbia River Highway constructed between 1913 and 1922, celebrate Restoring 63 miles, which are now open to travel and Reconnect the remaining trail segments to create a King of Trails, a world-class adventure allowing pedestrians and cyclists to experience the gorge between Troutdale and The Dalles.

This vision, however, is not completed and the 100 or so policy makers and visionaries who participated in the ride have been working on this dream for nine years.

It will take another $47.5 million to finish with the goal of opening the full trail by 2016.

When done, the impact on The Dalles will be tremendous, but we must be ready. Cyclists already come to our town for many reasons.

They can ride earlier in the year and later in the fall, away from the rains of the Willamette Valley. They love the beauty, the roads and the welcome. The numbers coming now is small compared to what can be expected after the Historic Columbia River Highway project is completed. We need to begin preparing today.

Councilor Tim McGlothlin has scheduled a Bike Summit on Aug. 12, at 6 p.m., in the Wahtonka campus meeting room, bringing together local cycling enthusiasts and citizens. Together, they will discuss how to make The Dalles area better prepared to include cyclists and related activities in our transportation and tourist plans.

Sports tourism and sporting events are big business. In July 2014, the IAAF World Junior Championships, a track and field event, will be held in Eugene. This event features the world’s greatest athletes ages 19 and under. They are the future Olympians from every country. Teams are right now looking for communities throughout Oregon who will provide a practice venue for two weeks prior to the meet. The Dalles has a wonderful facility at Sid White Field.

For this and other reasons, I would like to invite community leaders interested in sports, coaches and officials from all sports activities to come together for a Sports Advisory Committee meeting.

To be very clear, I am not creating a city committee. Too often such committees become encased in bureaucracy. I am asking the community to come together to plan how the community can bring more sports, sporting events and sports enthusiasts to The Dalles to help boost our economy in many, many ways. Sports is a business. If we approach it as such, we will all prosper.

In the past several months, the City Council has participated in face to face meetings with the planning department and the Urban Renewal Advisory Committee. On the 19th, we will meet with the County Commission to discuss roads and other issues. While I am aware of the danger of too many meetings and not enough action, these meetings are designed principally to improve communications. These are public meetings, announced ahead of time in the press. The public is welcome to come and listen.

Recently, I have noticed several strong letters to the editor criticizing the city council or the decisions of other municipal representatives. I support such opportunities to publicly voice a person’s upset. I want to invite anyone who wishes to talk with me about such issues, to email or call. My email is SeLawrence1963

@yahoo.com. My phone number is 503-807-0724. I will also meet with you in person.

Steve Lawrence is the Mayor of The Dalles.

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