The Hermiston Conference Center will now be known as the Hermiston Community Center after the city council approved a series of changes in policy and pricing at the building.
The city of Hermiston’s parks and recreation department took over management of the center from the Greater Hermiston Area Chamber of Commerce on Jan. 1.
During Monday’s city council meeting parks and recreation director Larry Fetter said the goal of the policies adopted by the city is to “retain the original intent of the community center as a gathering space and home for diverse cultural and recreational programming.” The city hopes now that the Eastern Oregon Trade and Event Center plus the new Maxwell Siding Event Center can take over some of the weddings and quinceañeras previously held at the community center, the re-named Hermiston Community Center can be used to foster more community art, music and theater opportunities.
“We will evaluate programs that use the community center and see if maybe there isn’t a better home for them,” he said.
The building will still be available for rental by a wide variety of groups, however. Fetter said there are still 10 Saturdays available for rental in 2018, and plenty of openings on other days of the week. Fetter said nonprofits will receive 50 percent off the base rental price for large events.
Several policies will remain the same as under the chamber’s leadership, including rules governing alcohol use, insurance and deposits. Fetter said one change will be that a city staff member will be required to supervise all events, which will bump up the rental price by a little.
“Previously there was a pretty loose policy where you locked the door on the way out,” Fetter said. “We feel we want to protect our investment and make sure there is no unwanted behavior.”
He said the department would also like to upgrade security at the center to use key cards that track when people enter the building, similar to what Hermiston School District uses. He also said events involving animals will no longer be allowed, as the department feels EOTEC is a better home for those.
The new pricing system approved by the council Monday increases the base rental price but also includes more costs in that price instead of itemizing so many things, Fetter said. For the base price, at the cheapest end a group can rent the Altrusa, Rotary or boardroom for $50 for an hour, $75 for four hours or $100 for an entire day. On the expensive end, renting the great room for more than 300 people is $1,500 and comes with access for the entire day.
In one example Fetter gave, the Festival of the Trees — a two-day-long nonprofit event in the great room — would have totaled $2,097 under the Chamber’s system but will cost $2,272 under the city’s pricing structure after base fees and direct costs like clean-up are added together.
On Tuesday while at the community center Fetter said staff are still going through the center’s two large storage areas to inventory the furniture and items such as linens. Once that is done, Fetter said they will likely have some more ideas for the center, including some possible upgrades.
Contact Jade McDowell at email@example.com or 541-564-4536.