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City takes over portion of Highland Avenue

City manager Byron Smith shared updates on a number of parks and construction projects during the city council’s work session Monday.
By Jade McDowell

Staff Writer

Published on July 12, 2017 6:51AM

The city of Hermiston approved a request by Umatilla County on Monday to take over jurisdiction of West Highland Avenue between Southwest 11th Street and Southwest 15th Place.

City manager Byron Smith said the city already sweeps that portion of road, and most of the property on either side is within city limits. The county made the request after the city approved a conditional use permit for a mini-storage project along that stretch of roads, which the county said would cause problems in its permitting process if storm drains were required along their portion of road as part of the development.

“This is a new approach the county is taking, I guess,” Smith said.

On Monday the council also authorized Smith to accept federal and state grant funding to hire Century West Engineering to update the master plan for the Hermiston Municipal Airport. Using Oregon Department of Aviation dollars as a match for the Federal Aviation Administration funds, the city’s maximum out-of-pocket cost for the $300,000 project is expected to be no more than $3,333.

During a work session preceding the regular council meeting Smith shared updates on a number of city projects that councilors and citizens have inquired about in recent months.

  • New play equipment for Greenwood Park is expected to arrive in August.

  • The parks and recreation department is ready to start pouring concrete pads for a new disc golf course across from Good Shepherd Medical Center.

  • The city is almost done finalizing an agreement with the Department of Fish and Wildlife to take over management of the Steelhead Park area, allowing the planned West Highland Trail project to loop under the Highland Extension bridge there and into Riverfront Park.

  • Now that recreational immunity for cities has been restored by the legislature, the city is searching for an architect with experience designing skate parks to move forward on the planned skate park on North First Place across from the fire station.

  • Parks and Recreation director Larry Fetter has been working on a plan with the Bureau of Reclamation to manage the dry grasses and weeds along the Oxbow Trail so that they pose less of a fire hazard.

  • The Oregon Department of Transportation project to place traffic signals at Northwest 11th Street’s intersections with Orchard Avenue and Elm Avenue did not receive any bids from contractors, so the department has postponed the project and hopes to put it out to bid again in the fall.

  • The planning department continues to work on opening the door for increased housing development in Hermiston, including rezoning 40 acres off of Diagonal Road from industrial to residential mixed with some commercial. On Wednesday at 7 p.m. at city hall the planning commission has invited real estate professionals, developers and lot owners to come discuss further ways the city can help clear away barriers to housing development.

  • Smith said the city reached out to Hermiston Foods after hearing of its impending closure at the end of the year. The local managers referred the city to the vegetable-processing plant’s parent company NORPAC. Smith said the city would like to offer whatever services it can in helping market the building or otherwise clear the way for re-purposing the property. However, he said NORPAC has a history of not being very communicative.

  • Smith also noted that the city has been pursuing all legal avenues available to address nuisance complaints against a property owner in the Highway 207/Feedville Road area that has been causing a strong rotting food odor neighbors have complained about. He said within a week or so there should be a form on the city’s website for citizens to directly submit complaints that can be used in court.

Contact Jade McDowell at jmcdowell@eastoregonian.com or 541-564-4536.


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