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Mayor sees light at end of COVID tunnel
Chastain, Noon Rotary1.jpg
McMinnville Mayor Ryle Chastain offered a State of the City Address at Thursday’s Rotary Club of McMinnville meeting. - photo by Lisa Hobbs

City government is almost back to normal, says McMinnville Mayor Ryle Chastain. 

“It’s no secret the last year has been a rollercoaster for everybody, the world over,” said Chastain. “There’s not a person in the world who’s not been affected by the coronavirus pandemic. Private corporations, private businesses, governments and healthcare – it has impacted everyone. I can stand here today and say that I feel the city of McMinnville is as close to being back to normal as it has been since this all started.”

Chastain addressed The Rotary Club of McMinnville on Thursday, offering a State of the City Address. 

“If you are comfortable with it, you are no longer required to wear masks or be screened coming into our buildings. All services are now back to being provided with no exceptions, no exclusions, or anything like that. Numerous times last year we had to halt city services, we had to close City Hall, we had to open it with stipulations, and we had to resume services with stipulations. It was a logistical nightmare. With the governor lifting the health restrictions, it’s still good to be cautious, but I think it’s moving us in the right direction as far as resuming what refer to as normal.” 

Also discussed was Milner Recreation Center (formerly McMinnville Civic Center), the future of the Blue Building, and the purchase of Pacesetters property on Magness Drive.

“The Civic Center is nearly complete,” said Chastain. “Final inspections should begin next week for a certificate of occupancy. Once we have that, we can begin the process of moving back into the building. It has been an impressive renovation and upgrade. I think everyone will be impressed and pleased when they get inside and get to see the finished product.”

Plans for the building are to once again offer concerts, graduations, galas, trade shows, craft fairs and Smokin’ in McMinnville, says Chastain.  

The Blue Building’s future isn’t as bright.

“I understand, entirely, that there is a lot of historical value and sentimental value in the building. It pains me to say, but I think it’s beyond repair at this point and that’s also the opinion of many others involved in the city.”

He outlined multiple options, including demolition.

“I always hate talking about knocking it down, but that is one feasible option. It has been told to us on multiple occasions, about 10 years ago and again recently, that the property is worth more with the building off of it. Any number of things could go there: housing, condo, retail, or restaurant. The sky is the limit in terms of developing that property to be something that we could utilize downtown rather than having a vacant building there.” 

The Pacesetters property was purchased by the city for $375,000. Chastain described it as “a prime piece of property” that could be utilized as a city garage, a police station, a police/ fire station or sold at a profit.

“We haven’t made any finalized plans for the property yet, but we know, whatever they are, it will be a win for the city of McMinnville,” said Chastain.