Airport Road will keep its name for now, but the Umatilla County Commission hasn’t ruled out changing the name sometime in the future.
The city of Hermiston petitioned the county to change the road’s name after hearing complaints that drivers looking for the Eastern Oregon Trade and Event Center were ending up on the neighboring Airport Way by mistake and having to turn around in the Hermiston Municipal Airport’s parking lot.
During their May 22 meeting, county commissioners tabled discussion on the name change indefinitely after commissioner George Murdock expressed concerns that changing the name of the road could derail efforts to get state funding to pave Ott Road and improve Airport Road around EOTEC.
Murdock said state Senator Bill Hansell told him there was a good chance that funding for the roads could be found during the current legislative session. Murdock said he understood the EOTEC board and city’s frustration with the confusing road names, but he worried about changing the name of a road they were seeking funding for before the county had money in hand.
“I’m very uncomfortable messing with it right now,” he said.
Commissioner Larry Givens, who also sits on the EOTEC board, said he saw Murdock’s point, since the legislature can be “fickle” about things like that. All three commissioners voted unanimously to table the city’s application for a name change indefinitely.
Residents and business owners along Airport Road had voiced their opposition to the name change with testimony against it and a petition signed by 34 people representing 17 addresses. They said they would be negatively impacted by lost mail, expenses to update legal documents and confusion caused by having their address changed.
One of those neighbors, Chris Waine, said in an email to the East Oregonian over the weekend that the group was expecting to have the issue resolved at the May 22 meeting and he felt it was disrespectful to leave them hanging without a final decision. He also said he did not feel it was right for Givens to be voting as a county commissioner on issues affecting EOTEC when he also sits on the EOTEC board.
Givens sits on the EOTEC board as a representative of the county, which is a 50/50 partner on the EOTEC project with the city of Hermiston.
— Contact Jade McDowell at firstname.lastname@example.org or 541-564-4536.