Clark will put the rights to design and construct the first building at its new 70-acre Ridgefield campus up for public bid after the Washington State capital budget approved over $5 million in January to create a design package.
Vice President of Administrative Services Bob Williamson said the college appealed to the state board, noting Clark County’s population growth in the north. He said the state agreed a campus in Ridgefield would help supplement this growth. The first building is scheduled to start construction in 2019 and open in 2021.
“We’re excited to be taking the first steps,” Williamson said. “The overall goal is to provide learning opportunities and training for the residents of north Clark County in a way that is convenient to them and responsive to their needs.”
Williamson started working at Clark in 2009 and almost immediately co-chaired the Oversight Task Force Committee for Boschma Farms.
Williamson said the Clark College Foundation secured Boschma Farms’ location as part of a 50-year plan to offer suitable higher education to rural students. He said it would help Running Start students and north county residents who travel several miles south to the main campus in Vancouver from Ridgefield and Battle Ground.
He said the first building will be a 70,000 square foot advanced manufacturing facility and that the campus can include up to six buildings for classes in addition to a pharmacy, coffee shop or other commercial services. The master plan that was finalized in 2016 outlines other facilities like an exhibition hall, performance space, general education classrooms, faculty offices, community gardens, greenhouses and hiking trails.
The master plan reserves room for agriculture, over 2,000 parking spaces and outlines C-Tran bus stops along the perimeter of the site. The site will include a campus-wide geoexchange heating and cooling system.
“We were essentially given a blank slate to dream, envision and build as we want it,” he said.
Williams said the Machining and Welding programs at the main campus and the Mechatronics program at the Columbia Tech Center will relocate to Boschma Farms’ first building. Administration doesn’t know what will take their places on the campuses.
Director of Facilities Services Tim Petta is creating the design package with the Washington State Department of Enterprise Services and will oversee the construction of the first building. He said he doesn’t know who will bid on the project.
Biology Professor Kathleen Perillo is leading conservation efforts with staff and students that includes reviving McCormick Creek, Allen Creek and various wetlands for salmon revival, encouraging native plant growth and stormwater management. “Currently the state of the existing wetlands at the Boschma site is degraded,” she said.
The master plan cites the City of Ridgefield’s required protections of wetlands and inclusion of buffers around them, which can be determined after a biologist categorizes the wetlands and decides what habitat buffers are needed.
Petta said a berry farmer currently leases two thirds of the land from the Foundation, which owns the land. Petta said the farmer grows grass seed and strawberries since it’s easy to transfer and remove. He said the farmer utilizes many acres across the northern county and will not be negatively impacted by the transformation of the land on Boschma Farms.
Williamson said they wanted to keep as much of the natural habitat as possible. The master plan shows 45 percent of the campus will be natural environment. The master plan vision statement includes a commitment to environmental learning.
Husband and wife Hank and Bernice Boschma immigrated from the Netherlands and lived in California before settling in the Ridgefield area to be dairy farmers. The couple graduated from Clark and became part of the community. Williamson said the Foundation approached the Boschmas about selling their land at a reduced rate and they agreed, understanding the importance of higher education.