The Hermiston City Council will discuss giving up 7.18 acres of land for a proposed senior housing project during the council’s Monday, April 12, meeting.

The city owns 20 acres of land known as the Green Property, located next to the city’s recycled water treatment plant. The city purchased the property for $420,000 in 2005 with a plan to use it to cool off recycled water before it was discharged into the Umatilla River. After purchasing the land and testing out the process, however, city staff determined the solution wasn’t viable.

In August 2020, Assistant City Manager Mark Morgan asked for the city council’s blessing to pursue a senior housing project on the part of the property on the far side from the plant. The idea was that the city would solicit proposals for housing for senior citizens, and offer up the land for free to the developer with the best proposal.

Morgan stated at the time that it was unlikely the city would be able to sell the land to a developer at market price due to its location. However, if the land were developed into a housing complex, the city could gain as much as $3 million in the first 20 years from property taxes and utility bills.

According to a memo from Morgan in the agenda packet for the April 12 meeting, the city received several submissions of ideas for senior housing projects, and after reviewing the proposals, a committee of two city councilors, a planning commission member and multiple city staff is recommending the council choose a proposal by Paradigm Compass, LLC that includes a mixture of assisted living facility, memory care and cottages.

Morgan is requesting the council vote on a letter of intent to start the process for Paradigm Compass to begin doing due diligence, which could eventually lead to the land transfer. The land would revert to the city if the company did not build the promised project in an agreed upon time frame.

The council will also discuss awarding a contract to Sineco Construction for $596,485 to replace about 2,000 feet of sewer main along Southeast Seventh Street between Newport Avenue and Highland Avenue with a larger pipe that will better handle current flow.

The council will discuss approval of a 20-year master plan for the Eastern Oregon Trade and Event Center, crafted by the city’s advisory committee on EOTEC. The plan proposes future improvements to the site to be added over time as funding allows, including multisport fields, an indoor arena, a concert venue and an expansion of the current event center building.

The council will also discuss entering into a financing agreement with Umatilla Electric Cooperative’s Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant program for up to $250,000 for completion of Funland Playground, currently under construction. The financing allows the city to offer sponsors the opportunity to make larger donations spread out over multiple years, and the money from those sponsors would repay the interest-free loan.

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