University of Oregon

Resource Assistance for Rural Environments

Hermiston action groups focused on getting people to stay downtown

Action groups created in February to revitalize downtown Hermiston are putting their plans into motion.

Main Street coordinator Emma Porricolo said input from the citizens’ committee on parking helped inform an item on Monday’s city council agenda that will change the on-street parking along the east side of Second Street between Main Street and Hurlburt Avenue from parallel parking to diagonal parking and add a new handicapped-accessible spot.

She said the group is also working on plans for wayfinding signs around downtown that would help direct people to public lots.

“We’re looking for funding still,” she said.

The “retail and restaurants” group has focused on increasing the appeal of the Hermiston Downtown Association’s First Thursday events, which offer up special deals, later hours, refreshments and entertainment on the first Thursday of each month to draw people downtown. May’s First Thursday, for example, will include 20 percent off denim at Andee’s Boutique and a free large tote with purchases over $100 at Lucky Endz Gifts.

Porricolo said the action group is working on bringing food trucks in for July’s First Thursday, and have worked with businesses like Cozy Corner Tavern to have entertainment and deals later into the evening during May’s celebration so people don’t just stop by at 5 p.m. and then go somewhere else for dinner.

“We’re saying, ‘Stay later, have a drink, have a meal,’” Porricolo said.

The building group has been compiling a list of landlords with empty or “rough” buildings to contact with offers of help painting, pursuing façade grants or making repairs.

“We hope they’ll work with us to make it nicer,” Porricolo said.

The beautification group is working on designing a “pocket park” in the courtyard in the 200 block of Main Street.

“They’re trying to kind of activate that space,” Porricolo said. “Nothing crazy, just maybe some benches, flowers, things like that.”

She said she has also been working with the downtown association, which is now an official 501(c)3 nonprofit, on getting more business owners to agree to purchase stone flower pots to put outside their buildings, which Porricolo will then help them fill with flowers that match the flower pots already located on the north side of Main Street. She said she recently got six new businesses to sign up.

Monday’s city council meeting will include another key downtown revitalization agenda item when the council is asked to approve festival street designs from the Downtown Festival Street Committee. The city plans to install the first phase of the project along Second Street in front of city hall later this year.

Originally Published in East Oregonian
333 East Main St.
Hermiston, OR 97838
Phone: 1-800-522-0255