Riverfront Park Walking

People walk the trails at Riverfront Park in Hermiston in early May.

A 20-year parks master plan for the city of Hermiston envisions adding several new parks, trails and an indoor recreation center to Hermiston over the next two decades.

Consultants from the planning firm Cameron McCarthy presented a draft of the plan to the city council during a work session on July 13. They worked with city staff and the Hermiston School District to put the plan together over the past year, using feedback from focus groups, pop-up booths at community events and an online survey that got more than 700 responses.

“I’m very, very pleased with the work they have done for us,” parks and recreation director Larry Fetter said. “The quality of this work is exceptional.”

Colin McArthur, a principal at the firm, told the council that at 4.6 acres of park land per 1,000 residents Hermiston has a lower than average ratio of parks per capita for a city of its size. Looking at projected growth for Hermiston, the city would need to add 22.5 new acres of parks just to maintain the current ratio, McArthur said.

The draft plan suggests and prioritizes 22 projects, including a 67,000-square-foot “health and wellness” center that would include an indoor pool. McArthur said that was the highest priority expressed in feedback from residents. The preferred location for the facility would be on the old fairgrounds behind Hermiston High School.

Another major project would be a regional sports park on the corner of Northwest 11th Street and Elm Avenue, where a disc golf course currently sits across from Good Shepherd Medical Center. McArthur said a first phase would add off-street parking and four fields that could be used for soccer, lacrosse or other sports. A second phase would add four more fields and a third would add nighttime lighting.

“Hermiston does seem ready and primed for a complex of this caliber,” he said.

The plan includes adding a dog park to Butte Park and improvements to the soccer fields there, and improving Steelhead Park to add picnic shelters and a boat ramp for small, unmotorized craft. At Riverfront Park, the city plans to move the parking, restrooms and playground equipment to the south side of the park, which doesn’t usually flood when the Umatilla River overflows.

The school district allowed the plan to include some planning of possible parks on its property, including adding a playground, lacrosse fields and a trail to the Field of Dreams off of Diagonal Boulevard. The plan proposes a new neighborhood park, tentatively titled Gettman Park, on land the school district owns off Gettman Road near Armand Larive Middle School.

McArthur said the developers of the Cimmaron Terrace and Legacy subdivisions in the northeast part of Hermiston plan to add parks to their developments.

A proposed park tentatively titled Baker’s Pond would turn property along Elm Avenue east of Walmart into a “natural area park” with a trail winding through the ponds and other natural habitat already there.

The city hopes to build a “teen adventure park,” including a skate park, on North First Place across from the fire station.

In addition to parks, the plan also calls for new trails connecting different parks around Hermiston, such as a trail from Belt Park to Harrison Park that would then connect to the Oxbow Trail.

City councilor Roy Barron asked McArthur why sprucing up the basketball courts across from Newport Park wasn’t on the list, when the courts are well-used and in need of repair. McArthur said smaller projects like that would fall under the “continuing maintenance” category.

Fetter told the council that the plan, which will come back to the council for adoption after some final tweaks, does not allocate money for the projects outlined or set anything in stone. It is merely meant to be a guide, based on the community’s priorities.

“It’s very comprehensive in its presentation, but there will be other opportunities that will arise,” he said.

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