Minutes of the November 16th, Community Livability Meeting

Future Task Force Members in attendance were City Manager Byron Smith, Assistant City Manager Mark Morgan, Fred Maiocco, Kim Puzey, Margaret Saylor, Maria Duron, Steve Eldrige, Tamara Mabbot, Dennis Burke, and Donald Daggett.

Community Livability Asset Oversight Committee in attendance were Angela Treadwell, Debbie Pedro, Councilor Jackie Myers, Councilor Doug Smith, Robert Green, Chuck Barnes, and Jim Whalley. Also present were Lilly Alarcon-Strong, Libby Barg, Clark Worth, and a member of the public.

Clark Worth from Barney & Worth, Inc called the meeting to order at 12:00 pm and thanked everyone for attending and participating. Mr. Worth stated he will be sharing the results from the community survey and the group will also be participating in a workshop. Mr. Worth reminded the group that they are working towards a vision of priorities for the next 5 to 10 years that will make Hermiston more livable for current and future community members. Mr. Worth stated the Committee has done a great job with community outreach, as they have received over 1,000 returned surveys.

Mr. Worth reminded the committee what some of the best Hermiston qualities are: a majority of the population is young, with an average age of 32.4 years vs 39.3 years state average, a high labor rate, and a prime crossroads location. The community has weaknesses in: retail and tourism sales, low educational attainment, and limited housing options with no housing over $300,000.00.

Mr. Worth stated the 1,037 returned community surveys, are made up of: 80% Hermiston residents; with 78 business owners, 84 workers who live outside of Hermiston, and 492 students.

Mr. Worth stated surveyed community members feel the same as stakeholders with Hermiston’s assets being: its welcoming and small town character, and missing assets being: restaurants, retail, activities for youth, arts and cultural entertainment, and a thriving downtown. Student’s filling out the surveys focused more on activities and places where they could be with their family and friends.

Mr. Worth stated based on the surveys received, the items below would best help the livability of Hermiston, which again, mimic the stakeholders surveys. In order:

  • Youth Orientated Community Center- Boys and Girls Club/YMCA
  • Year round aquatic center.
  • Parks, trails, and open spaces.
  • Arts and Culture facilities- performing arts center, expanding the library, and building a museum.
  • Thriving downtown.

Other items mentioned:

  • Beautifying Hermiston.
  • Medical and social services- with a priority of a Homeless Shelter. Students also think this is an item of concern.

Mr. Worth stated the first two items on this list were, by far, voted the highest community priority.

Mr. Worth stated those who will pay the most, but also benefit the most from these long time community investments over the life of the projects are those who are currently in the 6th or 7th grade; therefore, it is important to include students in these surveys.

Mrs. Barg stated committee members at each table will spend the next half hour choosing two out of the top five priority assets chosen from the community surveys, and list why these two assets were chosen, how they would affect the community, who potential partners would be, what organizations could lead the project, and possible structures or facilities already existing that could be repurposed. Mrs. Barg also encouraged the groups to include items of their choosing that did not make the top five list.

As top priorities, all five groups listed at least some variation of a multi-use Community Center and a variation of an indoor aquatic center. This Community Center would be for all age groups and have community partners such as the City, YMCA, school district, health care providers, corporate sponsorships, and others. Other community assets listed were:

  • Revitalizing downtown- refurbishing the Roe Marks building.
  • Arts and Culture facilities- with an expanded library and a museum, to include Maxwell Siding Train Museum.
  • Vehicle, bicycle, and pedestrian street infrastructure- with an emphasis within Hermiston, railroad areas, and an area from Hinkle to Hat Rock.

Mr. Worth asked if anyone knew of any current facilities described above, a multi-use space with or without an aquatic center.

Committee members listed: Oregon, Wisconsin; Hillsboro, Oregon; Portland, Oregon; Walla Walla, Washington; Twin Falls, Idaho; and Murray, Utah.

There was some concern from committee members regarding funding for this project, and although the community is very eager to have these livability assets in Hermiston, would they be willing to help pay for it.

Mr. Worth stated there will also be a second community survey focusing on the top priorities chosen from the first surveys results, as well as, asking the community if they are willing to help fund or volunteer for the chosen project.

Mr. Worth stated there are a number of individuals who work but do not live in Hermiston. And asked, is there something Hermiston can do to their quality of life to attract them to live here. This will be one of the items the Committee will be discussing at the next meeting.

There were no other comments and the meeting was adjourned at 1:30 pm. The next meeting will be Monday, December 14th, from 12:00 pm to 1:30 pm at Umatilla Electric Cooperative.