Ore. Park Proj. Halted Due To Parking Issues (1/16/2019)

Story by Woodall's Campground Management
The Eastern Oregon Trade and Event Center.

Blame was cast in multiple directions Monday (Jan. 14) night as the Hermiston City Council and Farm-City Pro Rodeo board discussed delays to construction of an RV park at the Eastern Oregon Trade and Event Center (EOTEC), but the bottom line remained the same: The city planning commission has put a moratorium on construction at the site, according to the East Oregonian.

“This is like our own little version of the government shutdown here,” Councilor John Kirwan said.

John Eckhardt of Knerr Construction said he didn’t believe the RV park would be completed before the 2019 Umatilla County Fair if they didn’t break ground by Feb. 8.

“I don’t believe we will be able to pull it off,” he said. “This is a pessimistic schedule — we might be able to pull some rabbits out of our hat, but it is a realistic schedule.”

The city hired Knerr Construction in October using a “bid-design-build” process to construct the RV park, with the hope of using the park as a revenue source for the EOTEC. City Manager Byron Smith said the project was expected to cost roughly $3 million. Due to budget constraints, a second project to build offices and storage space for the fair staff will be put off until after the RV park.

Smith said after city staff studied the project with Knerr Construction, they felt the best place to put the RV park would be the undeveloped southeast section of the property, between the rodeo arena and Ott Road. Previous plans had placed it in the northwest corner, but moving the park next to Ott Road would keep residents from needing 24-hour access through the entire EOTEC property and would leave room north of the event center to build the fair offices.

Smith said the southeast location is also the best scenario for utility hookups.

As the rodeo board has pointed out, however, there was a downside: It would take away part of the overflow parking next to the rodeo arena. Rodeo board member Dennis Barnett said a total of 2,500 vehicles parked in the overflow during the 2018 rodeo, including 800 on Saturday night.

On Jan. 9, the planning commission had its annual review of EOTEC’s parking variance, which allows EOTEC to have fewer parking spaces than would usually be required in exchange for meeting certain conditions.

In light of testimony from the rodeo board about the RV park’s effects on rodeo parking, the commission altered the variance to state no new construction could take place at EOTEC until the commission had approved an overflow parking plan.

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