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Gearhart Voices School Campus Ideas At Final Forum

GEARHART — Now that residents in the Seaside School District have said what they want in a new campus, it’s time to determine how much that campus will cost.

The third community forum, conducted Monday night in Gearhart, resulted in few surprises after participants suggested what should go into the new schools that will be built on the hills east of Seaside Heights Elementary School.

Reflecting the requests of those who attended forums at Cannon Beach Elementary and Broadway Middle schools earlier this month, the 25 participants said they wanted a performing arts center, covered outdoor play areas, natural light, access to technology and energy-efficient buildings.

Although an emergency shelter was mentioned, when it came time to vote by placing red dots on the card where the idea was written, the shelter received only one dot. Another card with “safe evacuation site” written on it received no dots.

The school district conducted the community forums to begin the process of designing a new kindergarten-through-12th grade campus that will replace the district’s five schools.

Four of the five are in a tsunami zone, and all of the buildings need complete retrofitting to bring them close to current seismic and building codes. An analysis estimates it would cost $20 million to $30 million to give the district’s schools another 15 to 20 years of life.

District Superintendent Doug Dougherty said the community’s suggestions will be taken to a group of 50 to 60 “key communicators” in the district. Then they will begin looking at the cost of incorporating those suggestions into the campus designs.

While those issues are being sorted out, the district also will bring in a bonding expert to discuss the amount of a bond measure that will be submitted to voters in November.

“Once we receive this information – as the vision of the new campus becomes closer – we will bring that back to the community,” Dougherty said.

Although voters will be able to see preliminary designs before the bond measure election, it would be too costly to produce complete architectural drawings until the bond is approved, Dougherty said.

Dull Olson Weekes Architects, of Portland, will design the campus. The firm has designed schools with kindergarten through eighth grades before, as well as high schools, but this is the first campus with kindergarten through 12th grade for the firm. Among its most recent projects was the new Sandy High School.

Dougherty, who said the district would use as many local contractors as possible, urged those attending the forum Monday night to discuss the new campus with the rest of the community.

“We need the entire community of Gearhart to understand how much we need this campus,” Dougherty said.

This story originally appeared in Daily Astorian.

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