The city of John Day took another step closer to entering the agricultural industry at the Nov. 13 city council meeting.
City Manager Nick Green was directed to begin the process to apply for a $180,000 loan from Business Oregon to construct an additional two greenhouse bays at the former Oregon Pine mill site.
EuroMex, the company that will supply the first three bays at the future Innovation Gateway project, recently offered to sell the city two more 2,000-square-foot bays at $45 per square foot — instead of the $61 charged for the first three bays, a savings of $58,000.
“We are not under any obligation to proceed with the additional bays, but if we anticipate expanding in the future, this is probably our best opportunity to do so,” Green said.
The city’s goal has been to use the first three bays to produce enough garden vegetables to meet local demand. Green said the produce will go to local grocery stores, schools and restaurants, and demand might exceed estimated harvest levels.
How the additional two bays are used will evolve from talks with Oregon State University faculty and agricultural companies. The focus currently has been on hops for craft breweries, Green said.
“Distributors are working on estimates for market pricing and market volatility for off-season hops as well as specific varieties that may be of interest to IPA brewers,” Green told the council.
The city can cover the Business Oregon loan with a monthly revenue of $1,000, Green said. He advised the council that construction costs appear to be increasing, but he wanted a commitment from both OSU and the hops distributors.
“If the hops were not successful, we would likely be able to reach this target by expanding our fresh produce selection,” Green said. “OSU faculty are also looking into the option of using a portion of this space for commercial research opportunities.”
Agriculture project leader Matt Manitsas said he had located online greenhouses growing hops in Colorado and Pennsylvania. Mayor Ron Lundbom said the microbrewing industry was “hot” and the city should get into it.
Green was directed to bring the proposal back to the council Dec. 4. If approved, construction could begin Dec. 12. The first three bays will arrive in November.
In other city council news:
• The council approved a lease agreement pending attorney review for use of the John Day Fire Hall by the new 911 dispatch agency. While fire hall improvements are nearly completed, the new consoles will not arrive until mid-January, delaying the transition, Green said.
The city provided formal notification to the Grant County Peace Officers Association, representing dispatchers, that their transition to the Grant County Emergency Communications Agency will be effective Jan. 1. Rural fire district boards are still in the process of adopting the intergovernmental agreements establishing a new 911 dispatch organization for the county, Green said.
• The council approved annexation of city-owned land in the Davis Creek area and the adjacent Mid County Cemetery District, totaling about 6.1 acres, along with the city-owned former Oregon Pine mill site and portions of two adjoining properties, totaling about 51 acres. Rezoning accompanied the annexation ordinances.
• The city has moved up plans to install fencing and security cameras at the new city shop at the former Oregon Pine mill site. The building was broken into in mid-October, before city equipment was moved to the site. Police Chief Mike Durr said it appeared the break-in was a case of vandalism, not theft.
• Public works director Monte Legg said an engineering analysis of the small bridge over the John Day River linking the south and north portions of the former Oregon Pine mill site indicated the bridge was structurally sound.
Green said DR Johnson Lumber has offered to donate cross-laminated timber panels to replace the bridge decking if the city pays for the engineering and design. The bridge would become a key element in the future Innovation Gateway project.
• A public hearing on the city’s request for $366,500 in federal Community Development Block Grant funding for a new wastewater treatment plant will take place at the Grant County Regional Airport conference room on Dec. 4. This will be a joint meeting with the city’s advisory committees and the Canyon City Council, Green said.
Anderson Perry, the engineering consultant for the city, has estimated the cost of engineering the new plant at $320,000. Another $50,000 will be needed to pay for an environmental review, Green said.
The engineering work will begin in January. A technical memorandum also will be prepared for the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality. The city plans to construct a facility that uses plants to treat wastewater and produces Class A reclaimed water, rather than a traditional mechanical treatment plant or lagoons.