Crane removing pieces of an old clinic.
A pair of backhoes work on some of the remaining walls at the former Yellowhawk Tribal Health Center as demolition work continued at the July Grounds in April.

Demo provides opportunity for new vision at July Grounds

From the CTUIR Capital Improvements Committee

MISSION – The month of May brought a significant milestone to the July Grounds – the demolition of the former Yellowhawk Tribal Health Center, as well as the demolition of the Cay-Uma-Wa Education Center, the former Prevention Building, and a modular that served as an office building for the Yellowhawk Finance Department.

“These buildings have been part of our Community for more than 40 years. It’ll be exciting to see how the community will envision the future of the July Grounds,” said J.D Tovey, Planning Director for the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation.

CTUIR went through a lengthy process when determining to remove the structures, according to Tovey.

In 2015, when the decision was made to relocate Yellowhawk to the current location west of the Governance Center, Tribal Planning, Public Works, and the Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) assessed the existing July Grounds buildings and engaged with various programs and groups about what the CTUIR community would like to see in that location.

The facility assessment revealed that the former Yellowhawk building was in “dire need” of a roof replacement, expensive repairs to a “deteriorated” asphalt parking lot, potential hazardous materials removal, and a new heating and cooling system.  That was is in addition to extensive interior improvements and renovations for any interested tenants.

“The decision to demolish the former Yellowhawk was not easy,” Tovey said.

However, he noted, it proved to be the right one. During demolition workers discovered some serious structural issues that would have greatly increased the cost of renovation.

“Future usage and functionality of the old Yellowhawk building was going to be just too cost prohibitive for renovations and long term operations and maintenance and not a good use of Tribal dollars,” Tovey said.

There is opportunity, however, to create a new vision for the July Grounds moving forward. With the buildings gone, the site is open and the land can be restored.

Tovey said Tribal Planning is hoping to begin a “robust community engagement and outreach process” this summer.  The architectural firm that designed the Old Gym renovations and the new Nixyaawii Education Facility is under contract to help facilitate and draft conceptual site plans of the July Grounds with input from community and stakeholders, especially Tribal veterans.

Given the COVID-19 pandemic, there will be careful consideration for how to encourage participation from the community.  It is anticipated that in addition to a series of public forums and open meetings this summer, which will adhere to strict safety protocols, there will also be the use of online surveys and other technology tools to ensure that Tribal members have an opportunity to provide their ideas.

For more information, contact the Tribal Planning Office at 1-541-276-3099.

The Capital Improvements Committee includes J.D. Tovey, CTUIR Planning Director; Frank Anderson, CTUIR Public Works Director; Bill Tovey, CTUIR Department of Economic and Community Development Director; and Scott Rogers at Wenaha Group.