Hermiston
With city funding set aside, 
park users have suggestions

Sisters Emily, Taylor and Naomi Hancock (pictured left to right) play on a see-saw at Victory Square Park on Memorial Day.

As Hermiston puts more focus on its parks, frequent users of the city’s greenspace have plenty of ideas for things they would like to see.

The city put aside more than $250,000 in a reserve fund for park projects in the coming year, including money for improvements to Victory Square Park and Sunset Park and $85,000 to build a skate park.

Most of the city’s parks were full of children, teenagers and picnicking families on Monday as residents took advantage of a sunny holiday weekend.

Janelle and Tony Carrera said McKenzie Park, where their boys were swinging from the play equipment Monday, was their favorite.

Janelle said they use all of the parks around town but McKenzie Park has the most shade, which is an important factor in the summer when it’s hot.

It’s no surprise, then, what she would like to see Hermiston’s park budget used for.

“Trees, trees and trees,” she said.

Tony added that he would also like to see more benches lining playgrounds instead of just tables.

“A lot of times people are using them to have picnics and then you want to just sit and watch your kids,” he said.

Both of the Carreras said they supported the city’s decision to put money aside for a skate park, because it would give teenagers something to do and draw them away from using play equipment not designed for people their size.

The teenagers hanging out at Butte Park on Monday agreed. Josh Yeigh, 15, said if the city finally built a new, full-sized skate park he would be there all the time instead of practicing parkour — an urban sport involving acrobatic jumps and flips off objects — at the parks.

“I know a lot of people who would use it,” he said. “Right now they go to Irrigon.”

He said he would also like to see money go into building a bigger, better spray park.

Mariah King said she and her friends mostly just hang out at the parks in town without using any of the play equipment. She said if the parks included cell phone charging stations, free wi-fi Internet and food shacks she “would definitely come more.”

Over at Victory Square Park, Kari Hancock was glad to hear the city’s budget includes money for permanent restrooms to replace the portable toilets there. She said the park is a favorite with her six kids, who range in age from two to 17.

“Restrooms would be nice, and clean ones would be great,” she said.

Chris Moon agreed. The father of three said he also hoped the city continued to make preventative maintenance on its current parks a priority as it looks to expand its green space. He also said that some sort of batting cages with a pitching machine would be a fun addition to the park.

“Right now I’m the pitching machine,” he said.

In addition to improving its current parks, Parks and Recreation director Larry Fetter has told the city council he would like to see the city prioritize adding more parks to the city, especially on the east side of town where few exist. The city has 101 acres of parks, which is 74 acres under the amount recommended by the national standard.

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Contact Jade McDowell at jmcdowell@eastoregonian.com or 541-564-4536.

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