Now that construction of a new hotel at the Pendleton airport has been approved, city hall is proposing construction of a second hotel in the Happy Canyon parking lot. However, it seems the city doesn’t own the property and would trade publicly owned property west of Southwest 18th Street for the proposed construction site. Evidently hotels are big business; our city streets and convenient parking are not.
I fully expect the Rivoli Theater Coalition will soon be approaching the city council to request another handout. They are rapidly running out of money, and the city always seems eager to provide more, keeping this money pit above water while the asphalt on Main Street continues to crack and crumble. Perhaps declaring city streets as “historical,” city hall would show more interest in their renovation.
In an effort to deflect attention away from the delays and ballooning costs of the Eighth Street Bridge project, it appears city management has decided to form another new committee, the North Bank Umatilla Advisory Committee. It looks like we’ll end up with another new program much like the “River Quarter Overlay,” spending huge amounts on consulting fees to develop some plan than the city cannot afford to fund, and all at the expense of maintaining our city streets.
According to recent city news, $781,000 was planned for street repairs in 2018. After promising an increase using a portion of the marijuana taxes and increased state gas taxes, the public works director expects to spend $725,000 in 2019, a decrease of $56,000. Spending $190,000+ of gas tax funding for electricity instead of the asphalt for which it was intended makes little sense, considering the condition of our city streets.
Despite generous salaries, our city management team seems unable to operate the city efficiently. Another consultant, an efficiency expert, is apparently in the cards to get the city back on track. Discipline, a little bit of common sense, and a focus on a program that effects everyone, not just a chosen few, are really what’s needed, and that, my friends, is maintenance of our public streets.
Rick Rohde, Pendleton