Clark College at Boschma Farms ready for ground breaking
Washington Legislature passes biennial budget, funds construction for new campus
By Rhonda Morin
The Washington Legislature passed a $6.3 billion capital budget as part of its biennial process on April 24, 2021, paving the way for a major investment at Clark College. The budget, which is expected to be signed by Gov. Jay Inslee the week of May 5, 2021, provides $53.2 million for the construction of a new satellite campus in Ridgefield, Wash., called Clark College at Boschma Farms. Clark officials expect to break ground on the property in 2022, begin construction in 2023 and open the first building in 2024.
“We’ve already gone through the pre-design phase; we’ve already done the bulk of the work,” said Clark spokesperson, Kelly Love. “We’ve been working with our partners in Ridgefield for many years now, and it’s always been a continued act of faith that eventually we would be in a place to receive the funding.”
In addition to the capital budget allocation from Washington’s Legislature in 2021, Clark received another $1.5 million in federal earmarks to develop an advanced manufacturing center. Details of the center are underway, but Clark College Trustee Paul Speer said the 61,000 square-foot building will include robotics, computer science, waterjet, 3D printing and general education courses. Speer projects there will be 200 students taking courses when the building opens in 2024, Speer said during a June 1, 2022 ground breaking event.
Clark College and Clark College Foundation worked in concert with regional businesses, political leaders and the public to develop a plan for a new campus on the nearly 70 acres the foundation owns in Ridgefield.
The work for Clark College at Boschma Farms consisted of drawing up a long-range master plan for pre-design and design phases, which are estimated to cost more than $5 million. Community forums held in October 2016 provided area residents and businesses with a draft of the master plan and an opportunity to comment. The college finalized the master plan in December 2016.
Clark College at Boschma Farms represents a long-term visionary chapter for the future of the community college, made possible by land gifts from the Boschma family and Ridgefield East 1 Associates LLC.
The communities in and surrounding Ridgefield, Battle Ground, Woodland and Kalama are identified by regional economists as a strong growth region. The college’s 2007 Facilities Master Plan identified north Clark County—known to residents as “North County”—as an area where the college could fulfill its mission of providing access to an underserved population. The Washington Legislature approved the project concept in 2009.
Initially, one 70,000-square-foot, state-funded building will be built, with up to five more constructed over the next 50 years, allowing the college to accommodate the region’s educational and job training needs. College officials are still discussing the types of programs that will be housed at the campus, but have indicated that there is community interest to have manufacturing and technical courses offered as well as health and science labs, professional and career training, and student services.
The newest satellite campus came to fruition as a result of philanthropic gifts. In 2014, as Clark College Foundation was negotiating a land transaction, the Boschma family, of Everson, Wash., and Ridgefield East 1 Associates LLC, offered a discount on two separate tracts of land. The two land gifts—totaling $3.85 million—became part of the foundation’s fundraising campaign. Subsequently, nearly 70 acres of land at a value of $11.6 million was purchased for $7.7 million.
Costs for the design and construction of the facilities are allotted by the state of Washington. During the 2017-2019 legislative biennium, the college received $5 million in state funding for the pre-design and design work. Once the first building is complete, Clark expects to add more buildings on the site for a total of six structures over 50 years. Meanwhile, Clark College Foundation intends to add commercial retail buildings to the area in the coming years.
Once buildings and programs are available, students from Woodland, Kalama, Battle Ground and Ridgefield will choose Clark College Boschma Farms to attain their educational goals, officials at Clark College predict. The next closest community college to the north is Lower Community College in Longview, 30 miles from Ridgefield. A campus in Ridgefield—part of Clark’s service district—will provide access to an underserved area.
The site is located at Exit 14 east of Interstate 5 in Ridgefield, Wash.
This story was updated 6/21/22