Hermiston Family Aquatic Center

The Montero family plays in the pool July 7, 2020, at the Hermiston Family Aquatic Center. The possibility of an indoor aquatic center in the city was one of the items that came up for discussion Nov. 16 and 17, 2021, during the Hermiston 2040 survey labs.

Results are in for the Hermiston 2040 survey, the city’s effort to create a 20-year vision plan for the community. The city gauged the wishes of the public with the survey, and people responded with their input.

The survey suggestions, called draft actions, which received more than 100 votes were “more retail shopping options” (244), “more restaurants and greater cuisine variety” (238), “build indoor pool/aquatic center” (154) and “more businesses and job opportunities” (119).

The greatest number of draft actions were for parks and recreation (19) and economic development (12). The remaining categories and their number of draft actions were housing (3), attractive and safe community (6), infrastructure and planning (7), transportation and mobility (10) and culture and engagement (8).

Community members gathered Nov. 16 and 17, to discuss these topics in Hermiston Vision Labs. The intent of these labs was to “test the ideas gathered from the community and refine them into goals and actions for the Hermiston 2040 vision,” according to the city’s handout at the labs.

“The best thing that came out of the meetings was we got a good turnout from the public,” Byron Smith, Hermiston city manager, said. “I was really excited about that.”

For the four vision labs, he said attendance ranged from 12 to 30.

He reported hearing suggestions and then turned the discussion toward ways to meet those suggestions. Lab participants also discussed less concrete ideas, Smith said. For instance, when the topic “beautify Hermiston” came up, people were tasked with deciding on what it means to do that.

Other goals, such as building an aquatic center, are ones that have been discussed for several years, but they are not out of the question, Smith said.

“(An aquatic center) would take some exceptional funding, so if the community really wanted to support it, would they support a bond issue to pay for it?” Smith asked. He added there might otherwise be a creative way for it to be funded.

Smith said preliminary studies on the aquatic center show it would cost about $30 million, though, upon hearing this price tag, no one at the lab wanted to take it off the list. If agreed upon, the earliest the center could be ready for people to use is five years from now, Smith said, possibly 10.

The most popular requests, more shops and restaurants, could be more immediate, Smith said. He expressed confidence those could become a reality next year. Most likely, he said, these would not be big-box stores, but small shops. For this, he stated that the Hermiston Chamber of Commerce could help with recruiting new businesses or delivering classes for local people to become entrepreneurs.

According to Smith, Hermiston has made plans like this in the past.

“Twenty years ago, there was one like this,” he said.

Created in 2000, the people expressed their feelings for what the city would look like in 2020.

Smith said such actions are extremely valuable for putting issues on “the community’s radar screen” help goals become a reality.

He said the one around 20 years ago included items the city acted on, though a few that were not. He said he thinks the aquatic center, which has yet to be constructed, was on the old list, too.

Now that opinions have been gathered and discussed, a consultant will return with a draft of what the 2040 plan could look like.

The plan will be shared with the public on Dec. 2 as part of the tree lighting event in Hermiston.

Then a steering committee will review it, make changes and recommend adoption by the council. The council will then adopt the plan, Smith said.

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