Hermiston is a family-friendly place to live. There are parks, a bowling alley, a roller rink, and in the summer an incredible aquatic center. But with an ever-growing population of younger people, Hermiston is falling behind in activities.

According to the Hermiston School District, more than 5,300 students attend the public schools in Hermiston. That’s 5,300 students between the ages of 5 and 18 whose favorite phrase — as any parent would know — after school or on weekends is, “I’m bored.”

So how can Hermiston make our town become a more kid and teen-friendly place to live? One idea would be adding a public and affordable recreation center. This center could include an open gym for athletes to practice year-round, an indoor pool so swimmers no longer have to travel to Pendleton or Boardman to practice, maybe even a rock wall for simple recreation purposes or an ice skating rink so Hermiston could add a hockey team.

The possibilities are endless, and it would positively add to our community, not just in the fun it would provide, but in the possible jobs. A facility like a recreation center would need employees to run it, clean it and control safety, thus creating even more jobs in Hermiston’s growing community. A recreation center would create a perfect place to hold birthday parties, fun family gatherings, and even graduation parties. The possibilities are endless.

This facility could even offer specials on certain days creating more demand and economic opportunity. A recreation center could open up a world of possibilities for new activities and sports previously not offered in Hermiston. This center would encourage more physical activity and get teenagers off their phones for a while to go have fun with their friends in a safe and exciting environment.

Boardman recently added a recreation center that could be a model for Hermiston. Hermiston already has an incredible pool that provides aquatic fitness, swimming lessons, lifeguard training, and a very fun experience, but it is only open in the summer. The recreation center would easily fix this problem and continue the fun and opportunity for economic stimulation that the aquatic center provides in the summer.

By providing a recreation center in Hermiston, the community of students would have a safe and fun place to relax after a grueling day of school or hang out with friends on weekends. It would provide new jobs, a place for kids to play and exercise, and better access to new sports. Adding a recreation center may seem to be a daunting task that seems far away, but if plans started now, it is a possibility for Hermiston’s future.

So Hermiston, let’s really open our arms to the youth in our community and provide a fun and safe place for them to spend their days.

Nadine Ferguson is a member of the color guard at Hermiston High School.

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