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Letter: The future of EOTEC and Pendleton’s Main Street

Published on February 2, 2018 3:19PM


With EOTEC bleeding cash at an alarming rate and swimming in red ink, the Hermiston City Council, Umatilla County commissioners and fair board (the same group that decided EOTEC was the answer that would save the fair, a fair the rest of the county showed no interest in saving) have finally realized it’s time to dissolve their partnership. The rosy picture they painted of the project, driven by emotion rather than sound economic principles, was a sham and the only way out is a taxpayer bailout by the county since no party really wants the liability or has the resources to operate the facility.

After giving up the half interest in ownership, it’s proposed that we ante up $100,000 a year forever so the fair board can rent EOTEC for six weeks. That’s the amount of time they had to set up, put on, and clean up at the old fairgrounds. A luxury they could afford when the fairgrounds were county-owned. I get a feeling that we taxpayers have been conned and it’s time for an auction.

Perpetuity, that’s how long the Pendleton Downtown Association (PDA) is asking for financial support from the city. That means forever, kinda like the IRS. That organization started as temporary and look at it now. Unlike the funding for the Chamber of Commerce, provided by the members and the transient room tax collected from overnight visitors, the PDA requested funding would come from property taxes. The credit they claim for any improvements downtown, other than Christmas lights, should probably go to Charles Denight, associate director of the Pendleton Development Commission, who did and continues to do most of the groundwork.

The mayor gave the new city council a B- rating for the year and that sucks. Though I don’t agree with some of their spending decisions, the council can only set the agenda with the mayor’s guidance. It’s up to the city manager and his staff to carry that out. Economic reality will determine winners and losers downtown, not the city council or the mayor. Look at the number of restaurants that have opened and closed in the past couple of years, while long time businesses such as Zimmerman’s and Dean’s continue to flourish.

Rick Rohde

Pendleton



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