The city of Pendleton is officially an investor in the Blue Mountain Community College indoor arena project.
At a meeting Tuesday, the Pendleton City Council unanimously voted to grant BMCC $150,000 for the project, which is known as FARM II.
College President Cam Preus reiterated that the arena would provide more space for its agriculture program and a permanent home for its rodeo program. To be located on the Round-Up Grounds, the arena could also host sporting and entertainment events during the cold-weather months.
The $10-$12 million project already has a $5 million commitment from the state and $150,000 commitments from the Port of Umatilla and Umatilla County.
“We believe it’s a great investment in our college,” Preus said. “It’s a great investment in our college and our community.”
Almost every councilor voiced support for the project, but there was some concern about where the money would come from. City Manager Robb Corbett said the money would come from a community development fund created from a previous property sale to Keystone RV Co.
Councilor Scott Fairley said he was uncomfortable giving money to a $10-$12 million project that would provide little revenue to the city’s general fund. Fairley estimated it would take 25 years for the city to recoup its investment through tax revenue and suggested the city use urban renewal district money instead.
With multiple councilors uneasy taking money from the development fund, Councilor Paul Chalmers suggested the council make the $150,000 commitment but determine the source of the funding later.
The council eventually agreed to spread out payments over a period not to exceed five years.