ASTORIA — The Patriot Hall redevelopment project, started nearly two years ago, is quickly approaching completion.
Clatsop Community College’s leaders hope to have the building available for graduation June 16, with substantial completion by the start of summer term.
The $16 million, 30,000-square-foot academic hall was half funded by Clatsop County voters and half by Oregon state bonds. The building will add a new 540-seat gymnasium, several new studios and classrooms, exponentially expanded cardiovascular and weight-training areas and a third-floor elevated running track looking out over the Columbia River.
How all that new space will be used is still a work in progress.
Although the college is located across the river from where most Chinook Observer readers reside, the project is significant for the many Long Beach Peninsula and Naselle-area families for whom the institution is a top post-high school choice. In the current spring quarter, 97 students with Pacific County addresses attend CCC. The total for the entire 2016-17 academic year is 228, and this may not count recent Pacific County residents who have changed their residency to live closer to school.
Don’t expect to be doing laps around Patriot Hall’s new indoor running track right after graduation.
The college plans to open the building’s main gym floor for graduation, then close down to bring in more equipment before a pilot opening of the building for summer term with several physical education and community courses. If Patriot Hall isn’t available by June 16, the college will create a venue for graduation in the parking lot behind Columbia Hall.
“We’re playing it pretty low-key over the summer,” said Julie Kovatch, a spokeswoman for the college, adding the summer will help determine firmer staffing levels and community demand before a more robust fall opening. The building will initially be open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday.
Mary Kemhus, coordinator of the college’s community education program, said the college will start enrolling people in June for the fitness program so residents can access the building’s training rooms and track. The program will cost $99 per term for the general public, $60 for seniors and veterans and $55 for alumni.
Kovatch said priority in the fitness rooms and track will go to students. “We know, though, that this building wouldn’t be possible without the community, so we want to make sure the community will have access to it,” she said.
The main gym won’t be part of the fitness program, but the college is setting up usage fees for community sports, such as basketball and badminton.
Aiming to make Patriot Hall a revenue source, the college has budgeted $40,000 in the 2017-18 school year in fees and sponsorships from renting Patriot Hall out for tournaments, conferences and other events. JoAnn Zahn, the college’s vice president of finance and operations, said the college will charge $125 per hour to rent the gym to for-profit groups, and $62.50 per hour for nonprofits. Patriot Hall will host its first rental, a basketball camp, in July.
Staffing Patriot Hall will be physical education instructor and Dean of Transfer Education Teena Toyas. Zahn said the college plans to use a pool of 15 to 20 federal work-study students to monitor the building.
When pushing the county bond measure that paid for half of Patriot Hall, former President Lawrence Galizio touted the building as the future home of paramedic, alcohol and drug counseling and exercise physiology programs. But the college has since scaled back its ambitions.
Kovatch said the college has reached out to other paramedic programs to gauge the possibility of making the college a satellite campus.
“Partnership discussions are currently underway,” she said. “It was determined that a standalone CCC-accredited paramedic program would be cost-restrictive.”
Kovatch said the college is encouraging paramedic hopefuls to take prerequisites at the college before transferring out. One of Patriot Hall’s classrooms will be dedicated for an emergency medical technician certification program.
An exercise physiology program was explored, but Toyas said it was deemed inefficient for students. “Our area is not very conducive to jobs in that program, and people can get the same type of training for less money online,” she said.
Margaret Frimoth, the college’s new vice president of academics, said the curriculum for a drug and alcohol counseling program has been approved by the state. “But in conversations with the community, it’s not the best opportunity for providing what students need for good jobs, and what the community needs,” she said.
Frimoth said the college is still working with community partners on how to create an effective program in drug and alcohol counseling.
The college broke ground on Patriot Hall in June 2015, hoping to open the building the beginning of this school year. Patriot Hall is the third phase of the college’s Jerome Campus redevelopment project, after the construction of Columbia Hall and the renovation of Towler Hall.
But Ann Gyde, the college’s historian and a manager of the Patriot Hall project, said general contractor P&C Construction, which has worked on the college’s previous construction projects as well as Columbia Memorial Hospital’s new cancer treatment center, has faced challenges in a constricted, hillside work site at the center of campus. Contractors have had to truck materials up Coxcomb Hill and stage them in a parking lot behind Columbia Hall. A landslide occurred in the project site at the corner of Lexington Avenue and 16th Street in February 2016, so the property needed to be restabilized.
Gyde said contractors will finish landscaping and the courtyard between the Patriot, Towler and library buildings in early June.
“It is anticipated it will be ready for summer term June 26,” she said. “Some work will continue after that date, depending on subcontractors’ schedules.”
Patriot Hall was first dedicated on the first anniversary of Armistice Day Nov. 11, 1921. The region’s veterans, the namesake of the building, were commemorated by a large metal plaque that hung on the old building’s northern wall.
The college will hang the plaque at the southeastern entrance to Patriot Hall near the end of construction. The building will be rededicated on the 96th anniversary of Armistice Day Nov. 11.
“Patriot Hall will be a center of community engagement on our campus whether it is through the educational programming, special events or recreational opportunities,” college President Christopher Breitmeyer said. “Patriot will be a valuable resource for years to come.”