Change presents itself again as a pathway towards a community vision, revitalizing downtown and becoming more efficient at managing the Hermiston Community and Conference Center. One of the great things that I often hear from people discussing Hermiston is, “you’re such a progressive, forward-looking community that doesn’t get hung-up on name hierarchy or past accomplishments. You just keep moving forward to make your community better.” We’ve been a successful, growing community because we embrace change as a way toward greater opportunities.
More than 2,200 community members participated in the “Livable Hermiston” public outreach campaign to gauge the community’s priorities. Two of the top concepts were; providing added youth and family activities while revitalizing downtown through projects which will attract visitors.
On Tuesday, the City Council will use that clear community message to consider bringing the operations of the community center under the umbrella of our Parks & Recreation Department.
Make no mistake; this decision is not about ‘closing the community center,’ frankly, it’s the exact opposite. Operating the community center through the Parks & Recreation Department will allow for increased space for youth activities, while still being available for community events.
Two years ago, the Chamber provided me with many historical news clippings regarding the original fundraising drive for the community center in 1994. I enjoyed reading about this great community fundraising project spearheaded by names we all still recognize today, such as Bryan Wolfe, Tim Mabry, and Ed Brookshier. I was struck by an article in the Herald’s special, “Community Center Insert” on May 17, 1994, titled, “New center is big business.” An excerpt from the article reads, “both the (fundraising) committee and the donors have gone to great pains to stress that this is a community center, not a convention center.”
Now as the city looks to refocus the community center back to its original intent, we invite the Hermiston Chamber to build on our longstanding positive relationship of supporting Hermiston business and the needs of our community.
The city is offering free office space in a newly renovated portion of one of our only historic buildings downtown. If the Hermiston Chamber wishes, we see significant long-term opportunities to continue supporting each other by possibly contracting with them to operate the historic building as a visitor’s center which will attract people downtown and allow them space to continue to support Hermiston’s fantastic local businesses.
I know change can be unnerving at times, although it helps to remember that change and working together is what has made Hermiston the community it is today.
I invite you as a community to join me on Tuesday night at 6:30 p.m. to share your views and hear our open discussion regarding Hermiston’s future.
Dr. David Drotzmann
Mayor of Hermiston