The Hermiston Urban Renewal Agency’s Downtown Festival Street Committee will review and discuss two potential options for the new gathering space at their meeting at 3:30 p.m., December 15th at Hermiston City Hall. Both designs VIEW HERE (PDF) include interactive water fountains, additional shade trees, large areas for off-street gatherings, and the ability to close down portions of Northeast 2nd Street.
Both designs are intended to create an inviting place in Hermiston where people want to go and spend time, said Clint Spencer, City Planner. The interactive water feature will provide a constant attraction for families, which doesn’t require additional staffing or constant event planning. The water features will be able to be turned off, however, in order to create a large off-street gathering space where small events can regularly host vendors and other attractions. In the winter time, both designs also feature an off-street location for placement of a large Christmas Tree for the annual winter festival.
The festival street concept is the centerpiece project at the heart of Hermiston’s Urban Renewal Plan. The project is now viewed as a primary way of maximizing recent momentum in the downtown core from developments including the new Harkenrider Center and the 93-room Holliday Inn Express by providing a reason for visitors to go to, stay, and spend money in downtown Hermiston, said Mark Morgan, Assistant City Manager.
“The number one ‘to-do’ currently listed on the website for the new Holiday Inn Express which just opened in downtown Hermiston is to, ‘explore the wild west with a trip to nearby historic Pendleton,’” Morgan said. “If a hotel just spent $6 million to bring 50-100 people per night in to our downtown, and they’re telling their guests to make an hour round-trip out of town for something to do, then we obviously need to provide them with a better reason to stay.”
Both designs re-purpose a portion of an existing City-owned parking lot, but result in only a minor change to the number of parking stalls by re-designing the striping. One of the designs actually results in a net increase of three parking spaces, while the other would see a net decrease of two spaces. City Staff is also currently examining the potential to add up to eight additional parking spaces in the Downtown Core by re-striping several areas of parallel parking as angled parking. These projects are all the result of extensive public and business owner input throughout the Urban Renewal District formation process, and a Festival Street open house this Fall which highlighted both the need for additional gathering space in the downtown, as well as parking.
The Festival Street Designs, developed by GreenWorks Landscape Architects, are available for review on the City of Hermiston’s website. Pending ongoing design work, the Urban Renewal Agency plans to issue bonds for construction of the Festival Street in mid-2017.