By DAN SPATZ
The Dalles Chronicle
Columbia Gorge Community College will negotiate leased space with the Port of Hood River to provide classrooms in that city.
College directors authorized those negotiations following a staff presentation in Tuesday’s board meeting, held at Cousins’ Restaurant in The Dalles following a joint session with the college foundation.
Negotiations will center on the “Big 7” building, a former industrial site with approximately 4,534 square feet of space available on its third floor. It is located at 616 Industrial Ave., east of the Waucoma Center.
The space would be used for daytime classes, a Skill Center, and for a Port of Hood River Technology Center. The move is seen as an interim measure, pending more stable, long-term capital construction revenues from the state legislature.
Finding suitable classroom space in Hood River has been a college priority since voters in Wasco and Hood River counties approved annexation of eastern and central Hood River County in November 2001. The state legislature subsequently failed to appropriate monies it had earlier promised for the annexation, but this past session of the legislature did provide $1.17 million for annexation costs. This is a biennial amount, to be disbursed quarterly, and would be used to help pay operational costs for the Big 7 property.
Ongoing costs are estimated at $37,004 annually.
Since the annexation vote, college instruction has occurred through an agreement with the Hood River County School District, using space at the high school and Coe Primary. But this is viewed as a short-term use; for instance, the Skill Center at Coe must relocate to shared space in the basement of that building as of Oct. 20, which may curtail its operational hours.
But the new site is not yet assured. The motion to proceed noted the need to dedicate at least 30 parking spaces for the instructional site, this in reference to a scarcity of parking nearby.
A building code review has been completed, finding no major deficiencies in the space, according to a staff report presented at Tuesday’s meeting. But the number of available restrooms and compliance with energy code may complicate the process.
“We are anticipating that a conditional use permit will be required,” the staff report states. “Significant code requirements could inflate the cost of the tenant improvements and therefore be a deal killer.”
No extensive remodeling is anticipated, although some improvements are envisioned, such as floor coverings and updated mechanical and electrical systems.
The Port of Hood River would pay for renovation costs through grants received by that agency, the report stated.