Leaders vow to keep trying until it passesClatsop Community College's accreditation remains in jeopardy after voters rejected a bond for new facilities Tuesday.
The latest ballot returns reveal only 39.6 percent in favor of the $29 million bond Measure 4-88 to pay for a new building on the Jerome Avenue campus in Astoria and renovation to the Seaside campus. Some 57 percent voted against the 21-year bond, which would have increased taxes $58 or $59 per year for $100,000 property.
"Money issues are a hard sell no matter when you do them," College Board Chairwoman Marilyn Lane said. "We're not going to be discouraged. We're just going to keep at it until we're successful."
The jail bond had a similar fate.
"We're real close to what the jail measure has done," said Steve Ferber, a Friends of Clatsop Community College member. "People do not want any more taxes - period."
Some 5,621 people voted for the college bond, while 8,092 people voted against. As of 11 p.m., only six more people voted for the college than the jail - less than a percentage point.
"We know that the plan we've come up with is a good one, but maybe it could be better," Lane said.
An 11-year project to build new and upgraded facilities led the school to Measure 4-88, a $29 million bond for improvements and new building on the college's north and south campuses.
The bond would have paid to remodel the library, Fertig Hall and the Art Center and expand the South County Center. College officials would have also demolished of two of the college's oldest buildings, Towler and Patriot halls. Former auto shop and welding buildings would have fallen so the college could build a 100,000-square-foot building between Fertig and the Art Center.
College leaders have been engaged in a battle with the accrediting agency over buildings that are inaccessible for disabled people and have unpredictable heating, ventilation and electrical systems. The college's Redmond, Wash.-based accrediting agency first noted the shortcomings in 1991, but served the school with a written warning last year.
The accrediting commission will review the college's progress reports in December, President John Wubben said. The commission will decide to increase or decrease the penalties of the college's accreditation status based on the reports and a peer-review visit this fall.
Towler and Patriot halls were constructed before stringent seismic codes and when freeze-or-boil heating and ventilation systems were common, Wubben said. Inadequate electrical wiring causes five hot-plates to overload the circuits on two floors of Towler, chemistry professor Heather Goodfriend said.
Four citizens, who call themselves the Clatsop College Information Group, said they believe the college doesn't need new buildings and should repair the old ones. "We want the college," group member and architect Tom Potter said, in an earlier interview. "We wouldn't go to all this trouble if we didn't."
If the college makes repairs beyond 20 percent to 25 percent of the building's value, it will be forced to comply with building and disability codes, said college architect Mike Smith of Mahlum Architects in Portland.
The Clatsop College Information Group declined to comment about the bond's failure.
A public opinion poll of Clatsop County voters this fall revealed voters supported the bond by 50 percent to 55 percent based on their level of education about the bond, according to Tom Eiland, a partner in Conkling Fiskum and McCormick. Eiland reported 34 percent to 35 percent, of the 300 voters surveyed in July, opposed the measure.
Ferber said he believes a filmed tour of the college would convince people to vote for another bond. "That would be the defining moment," he said.
Although voters rejected the bond this time, most community colleges must put bonds on the ballot more than once before they pass, Lane said.
"I'm sure we'll be back on the ballot," she said. "There's no question about that."