Hermiston Adopts Naming Rights Policy for Publicly-Owned Facilities

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City-owned facilities such as the Eastern Oregon Trade & Event Center could be renamed if conditions are met and the price is right under a new naming rights policy adopted Monday night by the Hermiston City Council. (Northeast Oregon Now file photo)

With the lure of a potential $1 million donation to the HEROS fields looming large, the Hermiston City Council on Monday adopted a city naming rights policy that will allow facilities to be named after an individual or corporation in exchange for money.

City Manager Byron Smith said the city has been discussing naming rights for a couple of years, with some of the facilities at the Eastern Oregon Trade and Event Center (EOTEC) being potential candidates. The idea was put on the back burner. But recently, said Smith, an individual has expressed a strong interest in donating a large sum of money – in the neighborhood of $1 million – to the HEROS fields out at EOTEC in exchange for having their name on the facility. That amount would be enough to finish the lighting work for all six fields.

Smith said recent discussions centered on naming rights for parks and recreational facilities, but it has broadened to include all types of city-owned facilities, such as specific rooms in the city library.

“We wanted to make sure we could use it for a variety of uses,” Smith said. The policy was modeled primarily after the one adopted by Klamath Falls, but other policies were looked at, as well, Smith said.

The policy could also be used to rename existing facilities, Smith said.

The city manager showed the council a list of what could be considered in the policy. Those include buildings, rooms in buildings, parks, garden areas, playgrounds, sports fields, courts, picnic areas, shelters, pavilions, paths, restrooms and swimming pools.

Things that would not be eligible for naming rights include trees, lawns, undeveloped land, general open space areas and small non-structural amenities such as benches, signage, waste receptacles and minor decorative elements. Natural bodies of water were originally on the ineligible list, but the policy was amended during the meeting to include them, as well.

Smith said the policy includes procedures for naming facilities with standards that must be met. Ultimately, the final decision on naming a facility would be made by the city council, Smith said.

Guidelines for considering a potential name include individuals who have contributed at least 50 percent of the value of the facility or area or who have contributed significantly in other ways. Smith said the naming rights would be for a negotiated period of time.

The guidelines and procedures can be found online.

During public comment, Hermiston resident Karen Jones told the council she was concerned that corporate names could be given to city parks that are already named after prominent Hermiston citizens. She also asked if there might be money available to put up placards explaining who these people were and why a particular park was named for that person.

Jones said people who made significant contributions to Hermiston should be given first consideration over corporations when naming new facilities.

“We need to celebrate our heritage,” she said. She also requested the council table the vote until the next meeting to give the public more opportunities to speak on the subject.

Councilor David McCarthy asked how soon the potential donor wants a decision.

“They would like it yesterday,” Smith said.

Councilor Jackie Linton made a motion to table the topic, but it was voted down 5-3 with Linton, Councilors Nancy Peterson and Roy Barron voting in favor.

The council then voted 6-2 to adopt the naming rights, this time with Peterson voting in favor of the policy.

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