State officials plan review of CBC capital proposals

By Ty Beaver, Tri-City HeraldMay 5, 2014 

Approval of a $15.5 million building project and a Richland land purchase for Columbia Basin College will be reviewed by state community college officials this week.

The planned Social Sciences Center for the Pasco campus is listed in the proposed capital projects budget for the Washington State Board for Community & Technical Colleges, according to documents.

CBC officials plan to break ground on the building in July 2015.

The purchase of less than two acres at 940 Northgate Drive in Richland, across the street from property already owned by the college, is on the state board's consent agenda. Cost is estimated at $450,000.

The state board will conduct a study session at the Pasco campus Wednesday before voting on the two matters Thursday. Both proposals are crucial for the college to meet the needs of students now and in the future, CBC officials said.

"At some point, we're going to have to get bigger," said Bill Saraceno, CBC senior vice president.

College officials have worked on bringing the Social Sciences Center to fruition for years.

The building is one of several projects on the state board's list of building priorities. Between $300 million and $400 million is expected to be available to pay for all those projects. However, the state has already provided $1.2 million to design the project and it is one of the highest priorities.

"They're No. 8 on a list of 23," said Laura McDowell, spokeswoman for the state board. "That's a pretty good place to be."

It would be more than 40,000 square feet on the north end of the Pasco campus and provide classrooms and offices for social science and world language departments. Faculty will meet with architects to finalize details for the project when the state board is in town.

The departments that will move to the new building have most of their offices in the L Building, which also houses CBC's library, said Deborah Meadows, dean of social sciences, world languages, business & information technology. They use classrooms throughout the campus. A central building for the departments would give professors the space they need and force them to spend less time getting to classes.

"We'll have the resources to hold our collections," said anthropology professor Mark Taff. "Right now they're crammed into cupboards."

The Richland land purchase includes two pre-existing buildings and has no immediate purpose, CBC officials said. It is being sold as surplus property by the federal government.

However, it is adjacent to the college's Health Sciences building in central Richland, which is home to more than 20 programs and 400 to 500 students. It is also next to another college-owned property, the current home of Delta High School. Delta will move in the summer of 2015 to a new building in west Pasco.

It's not certain that any expansion of the college's Richland campus would only be in the medical sciences, CBC President Rich Cummins said, but that is a possibility given CBC's ties to other medical partners such as nearby Kadlec Regional Medical Center.

"If we could help develop (central Richland), it would give us a chance to compete with Spokane as a medical training center," Cummins said.

-- Ty Beaver: 509-582-1402; tbeaver@tricityherald.com; Twitter: @_tybeaver; Google+: +TyBeaverTCHerald

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