The Eastern Oregon Trade and Event Center Authority directors voted unanimously Friday to continue a study of Ott Road as an access point to EOTEC.

The board amended an original traffic analysis by Group MacKenzie of Portland to include Ott Road as an access point for contestants of the Farm-City Pro Rodeo and other events to be held at EOTEC. Ott Road was originally designated for emergency access only.

“It’s important to be able to provide contestant access to Ott Road so that everybody with the horse trailers can come in from the Ott Road access,” City Planner Clint Spencer said.

The city adopted a fairgrounds overlay zone earlier this year based on the assumption that all access to the facility would come from Airport Road, according to Spencer.

The traffic study will analyze needed infrastructure improvements and ways to safely open up Ott Road at Highway 395 for contestants. The traffic study will also scrutinize intersections at Airport Road and Highway 395 and Airport Road and Ott Road.

Group MacKenzie will also develop an “event management plan” to ensure contestants travel on approved roads.

The study, expected to take three months, should start next month, according to Spencer.

In order to cover the cost to continue the traffic study, the city will reimburse itself with $17,000 from a $6.4 million state lottery grant awarded the city.

The authority also approved a motion made by board Chairman Ed Brookshier to require formal approval by the board before using funds from the state lottery grant awarded the city.

Members of the audience also chided the media for its “negative approach” in its reporting on EOTEC and the tourism promotion assessment approved by the Hermiston City Council earlier this week.

Port of Umatilla Manager Kim Puzey voiced his concerns with the media to the board.

“I can’t imagine how far apart we are on the perception of what has transpired here versus what I read in the press,” Puzey said.

Board member Vijay Patel also expressed concern with media’s reporting on the facility.

“From day one, what we have seen is a negative approach to it (EOTEC),” Patel said.

Patel also said Hermiston was the first community where the press was negative about a tourism promotion assessment — a $1 per night, per room charge added to hotels and motels, and 50 cents per night for recreation vehicle parks.

The county has not yet decided to replace board member Buzz Brazeau, who relocated to the Monmouth area to take an administrative position with the Central School District.

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