Pendleton takes another step to largest development yet

PENDLETON – The city of Pendleton took another step to
opening an area on the town’s South Hill for a massive housing development.

“It’s probably the biggest ever in Pendleton,”
City Manager Robb Corbett said. “It’s three times the size of the Sunridge
subdivision south of the middle school, but with an arterial road, allowing
access to neighborhood streets. There could be 1,000 homes, plus commercial
development in the western parcels.”

The city plans development of commercial and residential
properties on about 250 acres south of Interstate 84 between Exits 210 and 216
within its urban growth boundary. The city estimates an $8 million price tag
for a new road connecting Highway 11 near the Red Lion Inn with Highway 30 at
the I-84 Exit 216 intersection. Given elevation changes, the project will
require a $3 million water boost station, Corbett said.

Oregon’s U.S. Sens. Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden on July 29
announced securing funding for community projects across Oregon in the Fiscal
Year 2023 Senate Appropriations bills. One of those items was $1.5 million for
Pendleton for this housing expansion project.

The city council at its July 26 meeting authorized the
Portland infrastructure engineering firm Murraysmith to complete two bid-ready
water transmission main designs. The cost of the order is not to exceed

The council approved a five-year professional engineering
service agreement with Murraysmith in June 2017 and recently approved a
one-year extension of the agreement to July 18, 2023, the meeting agenda

The order addresses the design of two water transmission
lines. Both are related to water system master planning projects:

One design is to replace the 1910 concrete box gravity line
with a new 24-inch water transmission main. The older transmission main
transfers water from the water filtration plant reservoir to the South Hill
reservoirs. The new line means the city can abandon the gravity line, adding
acres for development consideration.

The second design is for a new 18-inch transmission main to
allow for development of about 270 acres. This is part of the booster pump
station replacement already under design with Murraysmith.

“The goal of the water lines and boost pump station is
to enable residential and commercial development whenever that might go
ahead,” Corbett explained.

City staff intended to perform this work in-house but there
are three vacancies in the Community Development Department Engineering
Division, prompting the city to seek a contractor. One is a newer position that
has not been filled, another is from a retirement in January and the third is
from a resignation in June. The city has not had success with filling these
positions to date.

Pendleton has done outreach and advertising, garnering one
non-qualified application to date, Corbett said. Lack of engineers has been an
issue for both municipal and private sector firms.

The Umatilla County Board of Commissioners approved a $2
million revolving fund to Pendleton for the road late last year. The city is
applying for state and federal grants for the water and road projects now.

“Pendleton’s policy is that developers have to pay
their own way,” Corbett said. “The city is trying to put the money
together, with the understanding that the developer would pay us back. We’re
doing just enough right now, then we’ll create a reimbursement district,
allowing property owners to repay us, based upon their development. There are
huge upfront costs. We’ll partner with developers to jump start the project.
Once repaid, the money will be reinvested.”

The city used its $2 million from the county to make a loan
to another developer building house on Southwest Nye Avenue

“The houses will be built and the loan repaid before
the (connector road) project gets off the ground,” Corbett added.

He also said the properties belong to the Rees and Goad
families and Pendleton real estate broker Jim Whitney.