HERMISTON, Ore. — The City of Hermiston has a new home base. Doors opened last week, and now anyone can take a look inside the new building.
Assistant City Manager Mark Morgan said a few years ago, the council had been discussing how to replace City Hall. He said a fire in 2019 made the decision for them.
“We kept smelling this burning smell, which was a little odd,” Morgan recalled. He said there was heavy smoke damage to the previous City Hall, built in the 80s.
“I remember looking up into the vents, and it’s just pouring black smoke and so it was like, yeah, that’s not right,” he said.
He said they discussed building a new building, apart from the old one, but decided they didn’t want to take City Hall out of their flourishing downtown.
“This is the heart of the city, and this is where we want to be investing in,” Morgan said.
PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Crews put out fire at Hermiston City Hall
The new building combines the formerly split up planning and building departments in the City of Hermiston, as well as brings in the municipal court function into City Hall.
The building also has room to grow. Morgan said the Umatilla County public health services are in the basement until the City needs it.
“This expanded City Hall is certainly getting ready for that continued growth,” said Morgan.
And they’ve seen a major need for this growth. Morgan said the area has more than doubled in population since the 80s. They needed to add a lot more services.
“The community has really grown a lot since the city had first occupied that building in the 80s,” Morgan said. “We had a lot more office needs, and so we were really bursting at the seams and needed more space anyway.”
Morgan said his favorite part of the new building is the art at the front, showing off Hermiston’s pride for the rich farming community. He said the green represents the crop circles you can see from the sky, and the arch represents the center pivot irrigation systems seen around the Columbia Basin.
“It has been a long road since we had our fire in December of 2019. Now here we are. So it’s a really exciting day,” Morgan said.
With the building finished, it’s time for the City to show off the $9.6 million facility.
It held its first council meeting Monday evening, following the ribbon cutting to officially open it up.
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