Featured Stories

A vision of Harmony

Plan calls for expansion of CCC and OIT, along with creation of park, new road construction
by: courtesy of North Clackamas Park and Recreation District, An aerial view of the Harmony Road study area.

A 'synergistic' process will soon be fulfilled as the Harmony United Vision plan reaches its final stages.

The vision incorporates the planning processes for the Harmony Road and Sunnybrook Boulevard extensions, a park formerly deemed contaminated that is now substantially clean and satellites of Clackamas Community College and the Oregon Institute of Technology along Harmony Road in the northeast corner of Milwaukie.

'We're trying to add some synergy in this growth and development - conserving space and energy through that synergy,' said Dick Swanson of OIT.

The partners held their third and final public comment session Thursday, at which citizens helped develop guiding principles and discussed what they'd like to see done with the area.

The process began with CCC looking to update and expand its facilities there. The county and the technology institute then decided that creating guiding principles for all the redevelopments at once would make the area cohesive and allow for some shared services.

Michelle Healy, of North Clackamas Parks and Recreation, said the project actually started with a committee focused on the aquatic park, which is also part of the site.

'We asked, 'how can we make the aquatic park a more desirable place to come,'' she said.

The task force addressing the question recommended a fitness facility, and the parks district then spoke with the college.

'The college had had plans to do a new building … and they were also looking sort of into the future of what needs would be there,' Healy said. 'At the same time, the county was looking at the Harmony Road and Sunnybrook extensions.'

Everyone then decided to come together, she said.

They decided to start the process with the community.

'What we wanted to get from people was, what do they think the whole thing should look like,' Healy said. They'll use that feedback to develop a plan, 'then each of the partners can use the plan as a guide.'

CCC rebuilds, expands

The first partner to start work on the site will be the community college, which is replacing its existing facilities with a new three-story building later this year.

'What really helped majorly was the whole health sciences focus in the first place,' said Theresa Tuffli, dean of the CCC Harmony campus. 'The community came to us and said, 'this is what we need.' The hospitals came to us and said, 'we need you to help us with this work-force shortage.''

Maureen Mitchell, dean of health sciences, said the joint process helped CCC determine other needs.

'The planning of the building had obviously occurred, and what we really wanted to know was what were the community's wants and needs - and anxieties - we were very concerned about that.

'We're really excited to be bringing nursing and allied health to the area. We'll be able to expand capacity and have new programs to meet the community needs.'

OIT looks to CCC's lead

Dick Swanson, director of Portland operations for OIT, said his school was looking to expand as well, but was waiting to see what CCC does with the rest of its property and to find industry partners to work with.

'We see the need for those allied health programs, but we're trying to address how we move those forward,' he said. 'We've got to find the right partners, there's got to be some need - it becomes the need for public, private and educational collaboration.'

Swanson said private partnerships are key because while computer labs can cost about $10,000 each, health labs can cost $1 million.

He also said developing the area is important as the new trend in education.

'The idea of building bigger, taller campuses is not the future - it's building satellites,' he said. 'How many people go downtown to shop anymore? You go to the local mall - education's got to follow that model.'

And he said the Harmony campus is the ideal place to put that model into practice.

'There isn't another piece of property with this much opportunity anywhere in the county,' he said. 'Clackamas [Community College] has what it takes to drive this - and we support them.'

Park and roads tie project together

North Clackamas Parks and Recreation is also hard at work planning the park area, which lies below the campuses down a steep grade. It was originally meant to be developed 30 years ago, but officials discovered the site was contaminated. Most of that contamination is now gone.

'What we want to do is figure out what we can do down there - identify where we have critical and sensitive areas,' said Michelle Healy, senior planner with the parks district.

And County Commissioner Martha Schrader said she and her commission colleagues had named the development of the Sunnybrook and Harmony road extensions as priorities.

Schrader said the multi-partner project, so long as the community is involved, would be a success.

'If we work closely with the neighborhoods and the neighbors, it's going to be great.'