Local governmental officials are moving forward with the transfer of the 47,500-square-foot Concord Elementary School building from the local school district to Clackamas County, which could be the first step in moving the Oak Lodge Library there.
A proposal to sell the Concord school building to Clackamas County's North Clackamas Parks & Recreation District is one major component of a proposed exchange of three properties between the county and the North Clackamas School District.
"We are excited about this collaborative agreement and partnership to better serve and support our students and families of North Clackamas School District," said NCSD Superintendent Matt Utterback. "When public agencies come together to serve their communities, everyone benefits."
Under the proposed agreement (subject to final approval by the school board and county commissioners), NCPRD would sell the 35.2-acre Hood View Park in Happy Valley to NCSD, giving the school district room to convert Rock Creek Middle School into a high school during the 2020-21 school year. On Nov. 8, NCSD voters passed a $433 million bond that includes converting Rock Creek into the school district's fourth comprehensive high school, which requires additional property for high school fields and parking. Featuring an all-weather turf sports complex that sits adjacent to Rock Creek Middle School, Hood View Park is valued at $18.7 million.
As part of the proposed $15.78 million in bond funds that the school district would pay the county, the school district would give up the now-vacant Concord Elementary School and Lake Road Administration buildings, making NCSD's acquisition of Hood View cheaper by $2.92 million. The elementary school shuttered in 2014, and in March 2016, the school district consolidated its administrative functions at one office building on Freeman Way. On Thursday, school board officials will consider declaring both the Lake Road and Concord buildings "surplus" in order to make the buildings eligible for sale to the county.
County officials say that acquiring the potentially "surplus" properties in Oak Grove and Milwaukie would give the county property in areas currently underserved by NCPRD's service area west of Interstate 205. County officials are eyeing a potential neighborhood park and "possible reuse of the building for a community, nonprofit or private use" at the former Lake Road Administration Building that sits on 2.59 acres at 4444 S.E. Lake Road, Milwaukie.
"This really is an outstanding win-win-win for the residents of the district, NCPRD and NCSD. This partnership gives both entities needed resources to better serve our communities for years to come," said Scott Archer, NCPRD director.
NCPRD's acquisition of Concord's 5.97 acres would "revitalize and repurpose" the 1936 school building. Officials say that the vision for the Concord school building and its surrounding property will be determined through a public process with the goal of creating "much-needed" indoor community space and neighborhood green space.
A 19,150-square-foot library on the ground floor of Concord (with an intergenerational learning center or a 22,244-square-foot community center on the second floor) are among the proposals favored by Oak Lodge community members.
Meanwhile, the city of Gladstone has sued the county for $1.5 million in library funds to merge the Oak Lodge Library into a new Gladstone civic building. Hearing protests from Oak Lodge residents, county officials balked at Gladstone's proposal and canceled an intergovernmental agreement. Gladstone's lawsuit to keep the agreement alive is on hold until a new mediator is agreed upon by both sides.
Concord Elementary School, which was shuttered in 2014, has been declared one of Oregon's "most endangered places" by Restore Oregon, a nonprofit dedicated to saving cultural and architectural heritage. The Concord Partnership, created by concerned community members, is "committed to the preservation and repurposing of Concord School with an emphasis on community use." Concord Partnership received a $5,000 grant from the Kinsman Foundation and a $2,500 grant from Restore Oregon out of $10,000 total raised to pay an architect for preliminary designs.
Although the joint NCSD and NCPRD proposal is not based on the Concord Partnership's concepts for future Concord property uses, the Concord Partnership has given some preliminary sense of possible uses of Concord that would have broad community support.
Other possibilities offered for Concord include an arts center on the lower floor and part of the upper floor, which would also have a 10,173-square-foot recreation/community center. All three draft concepts would retain the school gym and emphasize community and recreation center uses, which would occupy the majority of the building and outdoor space.
If the sale of the three properties goes through as planned, the transaction would allow NCPRD to be debt-free for the first time since its inception 26 years ago, freeing up a total of $1 million per year in operating funds to be reinvested throughout the district.
Residents and community groups are invited to provide feedback at upcoming public meetings. At 5 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 8, the NCPRD District Advisory Board will meet at the Milwaukie Center, 5440 S.E. Kellogg Creek Drive. At 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 9 and 23, the NCSD Board will meet at Clackamas County commissioners' meeting. The governing board of NCPRD will take public testimony at 10 a.m. Thursday, March 2, at the Red Soils Campus in Oregon City. The two governing boards are set to make a final decision Thursday, March 9.