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EO file photo
For every assist on the court from the Portland Trail Blazers this season, the city of Hermiston could score big with money to build a new playground at Sunset Park.
The Trail Blazers and Moda Health are donating $10 for each Blazer assist to playground equipment at one of three parks across the state. This year, Sunset Park will compete with Jason Lee Elementary in Portland and Lillian A. Goodspeed Park in Tillamook for the grand prize.
The winner will be determined by an online fan vote, which ends March 20 at www.trailblazers.com/assists. At 5 p.m. Tuesday the Hermiston project was in the lead with 1,026 votes, about 150 more than the next highest project.
“We’re going to be hitting radio, newspapers, social media, et cetera to really get people mobilized to vote for Hermiston,” said Hermiston parks director Larry Fetter.
Work is already underway to redesign and expand Sunset Park, located on Northeast Fourth Street. Fetter said crews started landscaping the area last fall, and tore out an asphalt driveway that led into the Public Works Department on Fourth Street in order to move the entrance onto Elm Avenue. That, he said, will allow the park to combine with an adjacent city lot, giving kids a couple of acres to play — about twice as much room as before.
It also will fill the need of bringing more recreational opportunities to Hermiston’s east side, Fetter said, as the west side of the city has most of the city’s park acreage.
The city removed outdated playground equipment last summer, which Fetter said did not meet safety standards. If they are selected, Fetter said the Moda Assist Program would double their budget for installing a new playground at the park. He said the equipment would be similar to what was installed recently at Victory Square Park near West 11th Street.
“We could get a very nice play structure,” he said, estimating the payout to be about $20,000.
Fetter said he was contacted directly by the Moda Assist Program two weeks ago, which was looking for parks to feature in Eastern Oregon. Sunset Park fit the bill perfectly, he said, and they are excited about the possibilities for the neighborhood.
“It’s really a gem,” Fetter said. “I’m excited to see more people out there.”
The winner of this year’s Moda Assist Program will be announced and presented with a check at center court on Saturday, April 1 when the Trail Blazers host the Phoenix Suns.