Riverfront Park

Pavement in the parking lot at Riverfront Park in Hermiston sits in disarray after floodwaters severely damaged the park in February 2020.

Granite Construction will handle a revamp of Riverfront Park after the Hermiston City Council awarded a bid for the project during their Monday, June 14, meeting.

The company was the low bidder of three bids, at $154,140.

After the park was damaged significantly by flooding in 2019 and 2020, the city plans to move the parking lot and playground toward the south side of the park, out of the path of raging flood waters when the Umatilla River overflows its banks.

City Manager Byron Smith said it was “really kind of scary” to see the power of the river last year, when it ripped the asphalt parking lot into large chunks and carried those heavy pieces away.

The parking lot has since been gravel, but Granite Construction will add a new parking lot to the south end of the park and the current parking area will be replaced by grass.

The city also plans to build a new, larger playground to replace the one destroyed in 2020, and Granite Construction will do the site preparation for that.

Smith said the city would like to move the restrooms that are also on the north side of the park, but the city doesn’t currently have sewer lines extended to the park, and can’t move the restroom away from the septic system there until that changes.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency is covering 75% of the project.

Budget approved

The city council approved the 2021-22 budget during their June 14 meeting, adopting a document that includes millions in new capital projects.

Smith told the council that after the budget committee had reviewed and recommended the budget for adoption, city staff discovered that some of the transfers between funds were not entered into the right places according to proper fund accounting procedures.

Since the essence of the budget, including the city’s planned expenses and revenues, remained the same, Smith said the city’s auditors said the council did not need to return the budget to the budget committee for a new approval before voting.

The proposed budget includes a 1% cost of living increase for staff in July 2021 and a 1.5% increase that will take effect in 2022 if revenues come in as expected. The budget includes a one-person increase in staff, from the equivalent of 121.47 full-time employees to 122.47 FTE, with the hiring of an extra water utility worker.

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