PENDLETON - Paintballs will be flying as shooters duck for cover here this summer if plans come together for a group of young entrepreneurs.
Representatives of a new business, Hammer's Edge Paint Ball, received the blessing of the Pendleton Airport Commission Wednesday evening to lease two buildings and a vacant lot near the Eastern Oregon Regional Airport.
Commissioners forwarded their recommendation to the Pendleton City Council that it approve the lease.
Keith Horning, Rod Swearingen and Ryan Christenson met with the Airport Commission to explain their proposal. Horning said Darren and Danielle Holden also are owners of the new business. They have asked to lease the buildings formerly occupied by Standard Plumbing and Birch Creek Candles and the adjacent vacant lot at the corner of Northwest 51st Street and B Avenue.
Horning said the group proposed to use the former Standard Plumbing building as an indoor paintball arena and retail store, the former Birch Creek Candles building as a rental shop and as access to the adjacent vacant lot, which would be an outdoor paintball arena. They intend to surround and cover the lot with netting to prevent paintballs from exiting, he said.
Concerned about the building's interior being splattered, commissioners inquired about clean-up plans. "Paintballs are all soap-based and wash right off," Horning said.
Airport Manager Larry Dalrymple said the prepaid two-year lease would bring the city $52,800, but would contain a partial refund clause if the business closes within the first year. He also noted the recreational use in an industrial zone would require the Planning Commission to approve a conditional-use permit.
Horning said he and his partners hope to have their paintball arenas operating within a couple of months.
In other business Wednesday, commissioners learned that the city intends to terminate its lease with Warbird Restoration of Pendleton, which last fall leased the former Oregon National Guard hangar for five years. Paul Peterson of Portland planned to team up with Fred "Dutch" White of Hayden, Idaho, to restore vintage aircraft in the hangar, but the deal fell apart, according to Dalrymple.
He said the building's utilities have been put back in the city's name and the local chapter of the Experimental Aircraft Association will assume its former role as hangar manager, collecting rent from pilots and turning the receipts over to the city. About five aircraft are stored in the hangar now, but as many as 20 small planes have been kept there in the past, he said.