Community Livability Asset Oversight Committee October Minutes

Future Task Force Members in attendance were Mayor Dave Drotzmann, City Manager Byron Smith, Assistant City Manager Mark Morgan, Fred Maiocco, Chief Edmiston, Kim Puzey, Margaret Saylor, Maria Duron, Philip Hamm, Steve Eldrige, Tamara Mabbot, Dennis Burke, Donald Daggett, and Doug Barak.

Community Livability Asset Oversight Committee in attendance were Angela Treadwell, Jacob Zumwalt, Debbie Pedro, Joe Basile, Joe Franell, Councilor Jackie Myers, Robert Green, Chuck Barnes, and Jim Whalley. Also present were Lilly Alarcon-Strong, Kim Sloop, a member of the public, and media Michael Kane from Northeast Oregon Now.

Clark Worth from Barney & Worth, Inc called the meeting to order at 12:10 pm and thanked everyone for attending and participating. Mr. Worth stated the group will be participating in a few surveys. The survey questions will be circulated to this group and to the public with a strong push to reach as many people as possible to participate and complete the survey and identify community priorities for the next 5 to 10 years that will make Hermiston more livable for those living in the community and visiting.

Mr. Worth stated this of group of 25 people will be meeting monthly until about December to come up with a list of new community assets that could attract more people to the city along with a community process, and a presentation to City Council.

Mr. Worth stated E.D. Hovee & Company, LLC an economic and development consulting firm, prepared a data profile for Hermiston. The data profile is intended to serve as background information for the Livable Hermiston Vision Project. The data shows Hermiston has had steady growth of 1% above the state wide average; the community is new, young with an average age of 32.4 years vs 39.3 years state average, diverse population with 38% being Hispanic, family oriented, high labor rate, with an average annual household income of about $50,000.00 which is also the state wide average. The community has strengths in retail sales of grocery, building materials, and automobiles; weaknesses in electronics, health related purchases, apparel, and specialty items, which are most likely being lost to the Tri-Cities area. Tourism and spending is extremely below the state average for an area this size. Education attainment is extremely low as well, with only 11% of adults having a college degree compared to 30% state wide, high school graduates also attain their diploma at a slower rate than the state wide average. A few of the most positive attributes is the young population, high labor rate, and its prime transportation location. Negative attributes are low educational attainment, limited housing options with a high mobile home percentage and no housing over $300,000.00, retail and tourism sales.

Mr. Worth stated they have interviewed about 25 of the community leaders known as

Stakeholders. Mr. Worth stated this group consistently identified the following:

  • There is a bright outlook for Hermiston’s future.
  • A strong and diverse agriculture economy with 207 agricultural products.
  • Prime transportation location.
  • The city has a very welcoming culture to newcomers.
  • The community is missing restaurants and retailers.
  • Education facilities are growing
  • Lots of community organizations work to help do outreach in the community.
  • There is a strong desire for everyone in the community to be included in all processes.

With the help of Mr. Worth the Committee listed effective ways to engage the community in to include:

  • Radio stations
  • Local newspapers
  • Hermiston Herald
  • On-line newspapers
  • Univision (out of Tri-Cities)
  • Churches
  • Healthy Communities Coalition
    • Lifeways, Department of Health
  • Medical and other Foundations – locally based. 
    • Wildhorse
    • Good Shepard
  • Speakers Bureau
  • Translate materials (power point presentations) into Spanish
  • High school students
  • Library – programs and posting information
  • Displays at sporting events
  • Make laptops available at events for members of the community to fill out survey at that moment.

Mr. Worth stated once all the data is collected, Barney & Worth will present the results to this committee, and the City.

The Committee was asked to survey what they felt were top priorities as their potential community assets that could be enhanced or newly developed. The top results were revitalizing the downtown area, a year-round aquatics center, and a recreation center for the youth like a YMCA. Other priorities that were discussed were: Revitalize Hwy 395 corridor as the City’s “Main Street”, Repurpose Conference Center, combining an indoor aquatic center and YMCA, continue work on the Regional water infrastructure and Repurpose railroad tracks to rails-to-trails project.

Committee members took a short recess to participate in the survey that will be implemented to the public. There was some concern that the public would focus on restaurants and retail being a priority when the City doesn’t have much to do with that process. A committee member stated the City can actively focus on trying to get big box retailers and restaurants in the City by offering incentives, and if the community wants this, the City should push to move forward with this type of growth.

Public Comment- Liz Marvin stated she is very excited about this process; being a Hermiston resident for 19 years she can honestly say the community is all of these wonderful things and has done a great job providing for the community’s future.

There were no other comments and the meeting was adjourned at 1:20 pm. The next meeting will be Monday, November 16th, from 12:00 pm to 1:30 pm at Umatilla Electric Cooperative. 

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