Minutes of the February 8th, Community Livability Meeting

Future Task Force Members in attendance were City Manager Byron Smith, Assistant City Manager Mark Morgan, Mayor Dave Drotzmann, Doug Barak, Chief Edmiston, Margaret Saylor, Maria Duron, Tamara Mabbot, Steve Eldrige, Dennis Burke, Philip Hamm, and Donald Daggett.

Community Livability Asset Oversight Committee in attendance were Angela Treadwell, Debbie Pedro, Joe Basile, Joe Franell, Councilor Jackie Myers, Robert Green, Chuck Barnes, Jacob Zumwalt, and Jim Whalley. Also present were Lilly Alarcon-Strong and six members of the public.

Assistant City Manager Mark Morgan called the meeting to order at 12:00 pm, and presented the Committee with the results from outreach done at the Livable Hermiston Community Event, Rotary, Kiwanis, and Altrusa Clubs, as well as the Hispanic Advisory Committee. All groups were asked to give feedback on each of the five priorities designated by the community, and offer any concerns that they may have, or any reasons why they support the concepts. Feedback from each focus group was very similar, ranging from concerns with cost of maintaining facilities, to not having enough community support; and favorable comments, such as partnership opportunities with other organizations, and offering more activities for all age groups in the community. The feedback was very consistent with the earlier online survey results.

The following are ratings from the focus groups on their top community priority:

  1. Indoor Aquatic Center, with 93% in support,
  2. Boys and Girls Club or YMCA or Youth & Family Activity Center, with 81% support,
  3. Downtown Revitalization, with 78% support,
  4. Parks/Trails/Open Spaces, with 71% support, and
  5. Art/Culture/Museum Facility, with 37% support.

Committee members asked how the top five priorities were chosen, and what happened with focusing on the future of the Community Center.

Assistant City Manager Morgan reminded the Committee that the first community survey given in October, asked participants what they felt was missing in Hermiston, and, if a large amount of money was gifted to the community what would they want to spend it on? Out of those surveys, the items above were the top five responses given. Mr. Morgan stated unfortunately, the focus on the Community Center changed based on the community survey results, but the City and Chamber are working together to develop a plan for its future.

Assistant City Manager Morgan asked the Committee to also participate in the same type of timed focus group administered to all the service groups from above, by discussing any concerns or justifications for the projects.

Based on the more than 2,000 survey responses, and feedback from the community focus groups, the Committee discussed each concept at length and recommends the following:

  1. Arts/Culture/Museum Concept- Remove from the list of “recommended projects,” but make sure that it remains in the report to the City Council, and receives some mention that it did have enough community support to be one of the major concepts considered, but isn’t being recommended for further consideration at this point.
  2. Indoor Aquatic Center- The Committee recommends that it is included as a priority project.  This type of facility must be a multi-use “aquatic center” that accommodates multiple community interests, and is significant enough that it can be a regional attraction.  If the funding is only there to make it a smaller facility that doesn’t meet these criteria, then the community should not proceed.  Additionally, the Committee supports including this project as a stand-alone Aquatic Center; however, it is highly recommended that the facility also include a general Family Activity Center component.
  3. Boys and Girls Club/Youth & Family Activity Center- The Committee recommends that this be included as a priority project.  This facility would host youth & family programs and activities that are available to the entire community.  If an opportunity arises to partner with a private entity, then the Committee recommends pursuing it; however, the purpose for the facility should always remain that it is for youth and family programs that are available to the entire community at an affordable price.  Similar to the Aquatic Center, the Committee supports this concept as a stand-alone facility, but strongly recommends that this be combined with an Aquatic Center element.

(Councilor Jackie Myers was excused from the meeting 12:55 pm)

  1. Downtown Revitalization- The Committee recommends that this be included as a priority project. The Committee recommends that the City of Hermiston should follow the existing Hermiston Urban Renewal District plan, and supplement it as necessary.  Additionally, the City should look to facilitate additional interest in, and redevelopment of, the downtown by making strategic investments there through its own facilities whenever possible.
  2. Parks/Trails/Open Spaces- The Committee recommends that this be included as a priority project.  The Committee recommends that the City of Hermiston continue to follow and implement various park development and maintenance plans, with an emphasis on ensuring that park availability and access is evenly distributed throughout the community.
  3. EOTEC- The Committee recommends that the #1 priority for the City for the next 3-5 years should continue to be to ensure that the EOTEC is fully built-out and operational.
  4. Implementation- The Committee recommends that the City and community place appropriate resources, within the next year, toward in-depth examination of the viability of fully developing one of the top four recommendations after the completion of the Eastern Oregon Trade and Event Center.

There were no other comments and the meeting was adjourned at 1:35 pm.