Monday, February 17, 2020
Feb. 17, 2020

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Plans for Clark College campus in Ridgefield unveiled

Mayor says school will be ‘anchor’ for city’s east side

By , Columbian Education Reporter
Published:
4 Photos
Gerald Jones and his neighbor Barbara Staudacher look at plans for a new Clark County campus in east Ridgefield. The college presented the final master plan for the new campus Monday at the Ridgefield Community Center. (Natalie Behring for the Columbian)
Gerald Jones and his neighbor Barbara Staudacher look at plans for a new Clark County campus in east Ridgefield. The college presented the final master plan for the new campus Monday at the Ridgefield Community Center. (Natalie Behring for the Columbian) Photo Gallery

RIDGEFIELD — A Vancouver engineering firm unveiled the final plan Monday for the coming Clark College campus in Ridgefield, describing a facility that will embrace the heritage of north Clark County while preparing for the future.

Monday’s presentation by MacKay Sposito and Clark College representatives was the culmination of eight months of planning, which included a series of community open houses and stakeholder meetings earlier this year. Firm representatives described a collaborative process that took into account the needs and wants of Ridgefield.

“This will be the crown jewel of (the east) side of the city,” MacKay Sposito President Tim Schauer said Monday at the Ridgefield Community Center.

The new campus lies northeast of the Ridgefield Interstate 5 junction with Pioneer Street. The site is named for Hank and Bernice Boschma, who donated their dairy farm at that location to the college. The land is valued at about $3.21 million. The college also received a smaller donation from Ridgefield East 1 Associates, valued at $731,550.

The Clark College Foundation also purchased a 10-acre parcel to complete the north campus, valued at $1.99 million.

Construction of the first 70,000-square-foot building is slated to begin in 2019, depending on state funding. That building will house classrooms and administrative offices.

The college plans to add six additional buildings to the site, as well as outdoor classrooms and agriculture buildings. It could take decades before the campus is fully built — the firm suggested a timeline of a new building every eight years, with the caveat that state funding could move those targets up or back.

“It’s a lonely little building for the first eight years,” said Bryan Cole, a vice president of the company.

At that rate, most of the predominantly older crowd of people who attended Monday’s meeting wouldn’t be alive to enjoy the full campus. Clark College President Bob Knight joked that by that time, he’d be 102 and ready to consider retiring.

But once complete, Cole described a campus that embraces the natural resources of Ridgefield while providing a space for high-demand degrees, such as advanced manufacturing. Planners took into account Ridgefield’s views of Mount St. Helens and Mount Rainier, planning the campus in order to frame the mountains for students walking to class.

There are also plans for restoration work on Allen and McCormick creeks, which run through campus, as well as walking trails for community use.

The campus also will feature its own water treatment center, and stormwater facilities will be built like wetlands, adding habitat to the campus.

The dairy farm turned college also will be home to student-run greenhouses and farms, Cole said, providing local farm-to-table meals.

“We felt that restoration component was very important,” Cole said.

Ridgefield Mayor Ron Onslow called the coming campus an “anchor” on the east side of Ridgefield and praised the college and firm for their work to include north Clark County’s feedback on the design.

“They’re trying to take into account what our history is here,” Onslow said.

The new campus will help Clark College provide for north county students as the county continues to expand northward, Knight said.

“We see this continuing to grow,” he said.

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