Eleven years in the gestation process, applause echoed throughout the room as the Clatsop Community College board birthed a bond measure for new buildings Tuesday night.
Results of a new poll eased the birth pangs with news of approval ratings throughout the county.
"I believe the poll was telling us to go make the move," Vice Chairman Paul Gillum said.
With a unanimous vote, the board decided to ask voters to approve a bond for a $29 million, 21-year bond, which would upgrade college buildings, construct new buildings and improve a satellite campus in Seaside.
The bond will go to voters at the Nov. 7 general election.
"We don't have a lot of time to plan it in terms of our informational campaign," President John Wubben said.
The bond will increase property taxes in the county by between $59 and $58 per year for a $100,000 property, predicts the bond underwriter, Seattle-Northwest Securities Corp.
"I think it's the right time," said Clatsop County commissioner candidate Janet Miltenberger. "The board has worked so hard on this for so long."
Of the approximate $3.3 billion of taxable assets in Clatsop county, county Assessor Betsy Moes said most accounts probably average between $100,000 to $150,000.
Board member Frank Satterwhite said his taxes would increase about $200 per year, which would equal the cost of meals and a hotel room for an overnight trip with his wife to Portland.
"As a board member and as a taxpayer, I'm willing to divert that much to the college," he said.
Citizens Ed Fearey and Bob Mansfield said college leaders are over-projecting the needs when they propose demolishing Towler and Patriot halls in favor of a new building behind them at the Jerome Avenue campus.
"They want a new structure," Fearey said. "Those buildings are definitely usable."
Fearey acknowledges the buildings need several upgrades including elevators to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. The college's noncompliance over the last 11 years has threatened its accreditation.
But Fearey and Mansfield said they believe the college's buildings comply with seismic standards because the rules are not retroactive on buildings erected in the early 20th century.
The college's engineering consultant Blake Patsy said the buildings' floors are not connected to the walls and in an earthquake they would collapse. As a minimum safety precaution, a structural engineer would have to secure floors to the walls, which would cost $40 for each foot along the wall in the 92,990 square-foot building, Patsy said.
He said the college would need to shore up loose gravel beneath the building. The college also said it needed to replace antiquated heating and ventilation systems and electrical wiring to comply with modern needs for safe computer and science labs operation.
The college's architect Mike Smith of Mahlum Architects in Portland said the cost of upgrading the buildings, including gutting most internal walls, would probably require full code compliance and cost $3 million more than rebuilding.
Fearey said the college could be more frugal. Mansfield said the college hasn't shown exactly what the $29 million bond would cover.
The new building would cost about $19.2 million, college officials reported.
Some $4.2 million would cover code compliance for the Arts building, the Library and Fertig Hall.
About $1.2 million would cover site preparation, including parking lot improvements, tearing down Towler and Patriot halls and auxiliary buildings.
About $2 million would pay for an expanded satellite campus in Seaside.
$1.3 million would be reserved for contingencies.
$1.1 million would be built in for inflation.
Smith said the new building would be almost 7,000 more square feet than Towler and Patriot halls. The extra space would allow the college to increase enrollment, Wubben said.
Wubben said he hopes citizen supporters will lobby for the bond.
Board member Jean Danforth agreed. "We should get old committee members involved in getting the word out to the community," she said.