City Hall Informational Forums Scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 18

Hermiston City Hall

HERMISTON — Two informational forums will be held on Tuesday, Feb. 18 to discuss the current status of Hermiston City Hall as well as the proposed solution to meet the city’s customer service and administrative needs in the future.

The forums will include a presentation by City Manager Byron Smith and an opportunity for questions and answers. The locations and times are:

  • Hermiston Senior Center (Harkenrider Center), 255 NE 2nd St, 12:30 p.m.
  • Hermiston Public Library, 235 E. Gladys Ave., 6 p.m.

The Hermiston City Council since 2016 has directed city leadership to develop a replacement plan and timeline for City Hall. A fire in the HVAC system in December has forced the city to relocate its customer service personnel, and the City Council requested an updated review of options for the building which have been developed over the past four years.

The city is expecting a net insurance payment of approximately $175,000 to cover damage from the fire. The council is now considering the most fiscally responsible way to use that payment.

In response to Council’s initial direction to study more efficient city service options, Ascent Architecture completed an analysis in 2016 for various functions. This study identified the ideal amount of space needed for city departments to meet current needs of the community and accommodate for projected growth.

Building on the study, the City of Hermiston partnered with Architects West in 2017 to identify the most cost-efficient ways to satisfy the community’s needs for the city’s functions. Upon taking further inventory of all existing buildings and refining the space analysis, Architects West studied five possible options to meet the needs of Utility Billing, Finance, Planning, Building, Municipal Court, and Administration. The options included:

  1. Renovate/Expand the current City Hall.
  2. Rebuild a larger replacement building on the current City Hall site.
  3. Repurpose/expand on the current library.
  4. Sell the current City Hall and renovate the Hermiston Community Center.
  5. Sell the current City Hall and build a replacement building on vacant land.

All of the options include both benefits and drawbacks. Financially, all five options were estimated by Architects West to have a net cost within approximately 10% of each other. For example, building new on a vacant site would save demolition costs; but those cost savings would be more than offset by acquiring new development-ready land. >>A summary of the alternative options is attached here.<<

An adopted City Council Goal for 2019 was to develop a 30% design concept to combine Utility Billing, Finance, Planning, Building, Municipal Court, and Administration in to one facility on the current City Hall site. Architects West had completed the recommended floorplan by late 2019.  The proposed floorplan includes:

  1. Combining Building Department & Planning Department staff in one location in the new facility.
  2. Combining Utility Billing and Municipal Court staff in to one location in the new facility.
  3. Combining the City Council Chambers with the Municipal Courtroom.
  4. 6100 square feet of expansion space to be leased to a partnering agency until needed by City functions in the future.

A more detailed summary of the impacts to staffing, services, and other facilities from the preliminary proposed floorplan is attached here: >> Main Floor. Second Floor. Basement. <<

The proposed solution would not be completed until the winter of 2021-22. Meanwhile, current City Hall functions, including Utility Billing, would be moved into the basement of the Hermiston Library. Approximately $700,000 in improvements would be made to the basement of the library to temporarily accommodate the City Hall functions. Upon completion of the new City Hall facility, the improvements made to the basement of the library will be able to accommodate expanded uses compared to its current configuration.

A map of the proposed changes to the basement is attached here: >> Library Basement <<

The final proposed combined City Hall development plan was presented to the City Council on February 10, at an estimated cost of $9 million. This cost is proposed to be covered through a combination of tenant lease revenue and dedicated fee payments from the Greater Hermiston Enterprise Zone. These revenue sources will be used to issue full faith and credit bonds for construction and will not increase property taxes. The City Council is expected to make a determination about this plan at its regular meeting at 7 p.m. on February 24, 2020.

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