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Pendleton considers tobacco ban in parks

New REACH lease, partnership with ODOT also on the table
Antonio Sierra

East Oregonian

Published on September 15, 2017 12:01AM

Last changed on September 15, 2017 9:59PM


By the end of the Pendleton City Council meeting Tuesday, the city could ban tobacco use in all city parks, take another incremental step toward realigning the Interstate 84 Exit 209 interchange and find a new home for a controversial nonprofit.

Mariah Hinds, the Umatilla County Health Department tobacco prevention coordinator, will give a presentation to the council and the proposal has already won the support of the Pendleton Parks and Recreation Commission.

The council approved an administrative rule in 2013 banning smoking within 25 feet of a park playground, but it didn’t apply to the entirety of parks and carried no penalties.

Police Chief Stuart Roberts said in an interview Thursday he would have some concerns if the new tobacco ban lacks enforceable penalties.

If a person reported someone smoking in the park but the cigarette was already out by the time police arrive and no one claims responsibility for smoking, the caller could get frustrated when no citation is issued.

Additionally, Roberts said the police department does have the resources to consistently patrol parks for smoking activity.

Roberts said enforcement needs to be considered when approving these types of laws.

“We make new laws, but we don’t really take them off the books,” he said.

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After operating out of the Pendleton Recreation Center for several months, REACH Pendleton, a youth outreach nonprofit, is asking the council for a long-term lease.

But REACH is no longer seeking use of the rec center and is now requesting to rent the old Pendleton police station at 109 S.W. Court Ave.

In its short history, REACH has drawn concern from community members and city officials for displacing existing programs at the rec center, the depth of its involvement with local churches and inaccurate crime statistics it reported on its website.

REACH board member Joe Jackson acknowledged community concern in an Aug. 29 letter to the city council explaining the organization’s decision to find a new site.

“The proposed use and/or lease of the Rec Center building by REACH brought about a considerable amount of community worry and concern, and though much of the voiced concerns were not founded on what had actually been proposed, it has become very clear that the community would prefer to keep the present use of the Rec Center and not offer the facility for lease,” he wrote.

In exchange for use of the old police station, REACH is proposing renting the building for $1 per month on a 12-month lease in addition to providing tenant and liability insurance on the facility.

Additionally, REACH wants an option to extend the lease by another year after the initial 12 months and buy the building outright after the lease is over.

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The council will discuss a proposed cost-share agreement between the city and the Oregon Department of Transportation.

If the council approves the agreement, the city and ODOT could team up to apply for a grant to cover the costs of Phase 1 planning and engineering work to realign I-84 exit 209.

Current plans call for the four-way intersection of Southwest Emigrant Avenue and Southwest 20th Street near Exit 209 on Interstate 84 to be moved west, where some homes and retail spaces are now.

Instituting such a change would require realigning 20th Street and building a new road to access the Southgate entrance and exit, among other changes. The city believes these changes will alleviate traffic.

Under the proposed agreement, the city would pay $300,000, ODOT would kick in $71,890 and the federal government would cover the rest of the $1 million to undertake the engineering process.

“Without federal assistance, (Pendleton) simply does not have the financial resources at this time to fund further project related costs without incrementally borrowing funds and taking away local resources for on-going pavement preservation,” City Manager Robb Corbett and Public Works Director Bob Patterson wrote in a report to the council.

The city’s current estimates for the project’s total cost range from $22.5 million to $31.9 million.

The council will meet at 7 p.m. at the council chambers in city hall, 500 S.W. Dorion Ave.

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Contact Antonio Sierra at asierra@eastoregonian.com or 541-966-0836.



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