A new facility for REACH Pendleton is within its grasp.
At a meeting Tuesday, the Pendleton City Council agreed to lease the old police station at 109 S.W. Court Ave. for $1 a month for 12 months to the youth outreach nonprofit. REACH will have the option of renewing the lease for an additional 12 months, but the city retains the right to terminate the lease at any time if another party wants to purchase the building.
REACH had been using the Pendleton Recreation Center, but the controversy surrounding the displacement of other community programs caused the nonprofit to hone in on the police station.
The city’s right to terminate was not a part of REACH’s original proposal, and some councilors were concerned about the possibility of taking a surplus property off the market. City Manager Robb Corbett said the city has received two offers on the vacant property, but both of the potential buyers broke off negotiations once the city came back with a counteroffer.
Councilor Dale Primmer asked if REACH board member Joe Jackson if he would be amenable to a month-to-month contract or a shorter lease, but Jackson said he was personally uncomfortable with a lease any shorter than six months.
The council was also unreceptive to REACH’s request for the city to pay for the first six months of the building’s utilities and inquired into the organization’s current operational state.
Jackson said REACH had $7,000 available to spend and intended to spend 1-2 days a week at the facility from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m., expanding operations further once it became more sustainable.
Councilor John Brenne was skeptical.
“I have several concerns here,” he said. “I’m also concerned they have no trained counselors. They have no staff. They have no budget.”
After a lengthy debate, Councilor Scott Fairley made a motion to lease the building for a one year with the one-year extension option, but it was defeated. A second motion made by Brenne for a six month lease with a six month extension option didn’t receive even receive a second.
A third motion made by Primmer, which included the city option to terminate, was ultimately passed 7-1, with Brenne voting against.
The council also turned down a motion to expand an administrative rule that would have banned tobacco use in all city parks, but unlike the REACH lease, no further action was taken.
Like a rule passed in 2013 that prohibited smoking within 25 feet of a playground, it would have carried no enforcement power, but when the new rule came to a vote, only Councilor Paul Chalmers supported it.
The tobacco ban had the support of the Pendleton Parks and Recreation Commission and Mariah Hinds, the Umatilla County Health Department’s tobacco prevention coordinator, who encouraged the council to adopt enforceable penalties.
Hinds said most citizens would police the ban themselves and the city could also convene a citizen task force that would go into parks and remind people not to use tobacco. She added that these task forces could also get permission from the police department to issue citations to offenders.
Fairley said the idea of a task force with enforcement authority was “kind of provocative” and Councilor Becky Marks said any kind of enforcement would cause more conflict.
Fairley suggested that staff take more time to craft a tobacco ordinance and bring it back to the council.
Primmer said the council should meet with Police Chief Stuart Roberts and talk about enforcement before considering an ordinance.
“I don’t want an ordinance in name only,” he said.
The idea of implementing a rule without any enforcement capabilities wasn’t popular either. Pendleton Police Lt. Chuck Byram said public confusion over having a rule that authorities couldn’t enforce would only waste the department’s time and resources.
Contact Antonio Sierra at email@example.com or 541-966-0836.