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Council directs staff to look into preserving riverfront land

Antonio Sierra

East Oregonian

Published on February 21, 2018 2:39PM

Last changed on February 21, 2018 11:52PM

Tall grass and wildflowers grow in an open area of the north bank of the Umatilla River in Pendleton in this May 2017 file photo. The property, once considered for a housing development, could be designated for conservation.

Staff photo by E.J. Harris

Tall grass and wildflowers grow in an open area of the north bank of the Umatilla River in Pendleton in this May 2017 file photo. The property, once considered for a housing development, could be designated for conservation.

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A grassroots effort to conserve a piece of riverfront land north of the Umatilla River is one step closer to reaching its goal.

In its role as the Pendleton Development Commission, the Pendleton City Council directed city staff to clarify the legal process of designating the land for conservation.

The commission had previously considered selling the half acre for housing development, but a group of nearby property owners and environmentalists lobbied the commission to preserve it and formed a committee to devise a solution.

Packing council chambers again Tuesday night, the group was represented by Casey Brown, a Pendleton parks and recreation staff member who took a personal interest in preserving the land.

Brown said the committee collectively contributed 200 hours toward the project and ultimately agreed to three recommendations to the commission: approve the land’s conservation, choose how it would be conserved and extend the “vision” to all riverfront land in the city.

While the council didn’t want to tackle a river-wide conservation plan, members did seem open to the committee’s first two recommendations.

Councilor Neil Brown praised the committee’s efforts, saying it was an example of how the community can come together behind a cause.

City manager Robb Corbett said he wanted to run the issue by city attorney Nancy Kerns and it could be brought back before the commission at its March 20 meeting.

Earlier in the meeting, the commission approved a $26,933 façade grant to the Pendleton Underground Tours, which intends to turn the former MaySon’s Old Fashioned General Store space into a “made in Pendleton” store.

As a part of the façade renovations, the underground tours will install new windows, doors and storefronts at MaySon’s, Alexander’s Chocolate Classics and 365 S. Main St., the new space for the Pendleton Downtown Association.

At the city council meeting immediately following the commission meeting, the council took several actions:

• The council unanimously approved amending the chronic nuisance ordinance to include properties where frequent criminal activity occurs.

Kerns said the ordinance might not have much current use, but it may be useful in the future.

• The council also approved a $23,500 work order with Anderson Perry & Associates to conduct a study of changing out existing street lights for LEDs.

“Study will evaluate the cost to own, install, and operate LED street lights compared to the continued cost of paying Pacific Power & Light for the existing high-pressure sodium street lights,” a staff report states.



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