Hermiston Food Pod to Remain on Orchard Avenue with Improvements

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Hermiston’s food pod will stay where it is following Monday night’s unanimous vote by the Hermiston City Council.

The food pod on Orchard Avenue began as a pilot program in 2019, operating across from the Post Office from April through November. In January, the city council gave the go-ahead to continue the food pod with the goal of finding a more suitable location with water and electrical hook-ups, and shaded areas.

In June, the council narrowed the possible locations to the current spot on Orchard Avenue, Newport Park and Funland Park near the Splash Pad. Patrick Hunt, who runs his Southern Twain BBQ from the lot, lobbied for the pod to remain on Orchard Avenue, citing its central location and that customers know where to find it.

The council was told at that time it would cost $180,000 to provide water, sewer, electricity and shade in the area on Orchard Avenue.

On Monday, Mayor Dave Drotzmann expressed concern over the lack of vendors operating out of the food pod. City Planner Clint Spencer said much of that can be attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the lack of adequate infrastructure. Drotzmann said creating shade opportunities is critical.

Councilor Jackie Myers said Orchard Avenue’s central location gave it the edge in her mind.

“Where they’re at gives them such visibility,” she said.

Councilor Doug Primmer said he’s confident that more vendors will choose to operate at the food pod once the infrastructure is set up.

“My thing is, if you build it, they will come,” he said. “They will be there. Without the necessary hook-ups, it’s hard to draw people there. We should develop that spot.”

City Manager Byron Smith said work on the needed infrastructure could start in the off-season and hopefully have it ready for 2021.

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