Could the Oak Lodge Library be relocated to the North Clackamas School District’s Concord building?

A 15,000-square-foot library on the ground floor of the elementary school that shuttered in 2014 is one of the proposals being put forward by the Concord Partnership, which is inviting public comments on draft conceptual designs for possible future uses of the 47,500-square-foot Concord building.

Community members rally to save Concord Elementary School.Concord Partnership, a recently established nonprofit, was formed for the purpose of representing the local community’s expressed desires to save and reuse the school property for the community. All three draft concepts emphasize community center and recreation center uses, which would occupy the majority of the building and outdoor space.

Ron Campbell of the Concord Partnership community group said representatives have been careful to present the concepts for public review as works-in-progress. The conceptual designs will be finalized after members of the public, including potentially interested property occupants, have had opportunities for review.

Located in Oak Grove, it’s unclear whether the library would be large enough for the use of Gladstone patrons as well. Having sued the county for $1.5 million in library funding, Gladstone officials said that a new Oak Lodge library would be a departure from the current agreement with the county to build a combined library in Gladstone. In response to the idea that Gladstone eventually would take over the county’s library on McLoughlin Boulevard, Gladstone City Councilor Steve Johnson said, “If the county has a plan, they ought to make it public so we can consider it.”

Concord Partnership representatives have been following discussions of county commissioners that seem to allude to multiple possibilities still on the table, so the Concord library proposal is being offered as another possibility for future discussion.

“The space we have targeted in the Concord building for a library is, to my knowledge, an optimum size for a library serving the unincorporated Oak Lodge community population, whether it be a stand-alone county library or a satellite of a city library,” Campbell said. “It really is not large enough for a merged library unless additional space in the building is allocated to that use, which would diminish other potential community center uses, such as replacing the existing cafeteria. It could certainly work by sacrificing other types of community space uses.”

Other possibilities offered for Concord include a 21,000-square-foot boys and girls club instead of a library, or a third option, which would instead include an early learning center and incorporate a senior center into the community center on the upper floor and part of the lower floor.

Partnership representatives clarified that local community ideas represented by their work will not necessarily be consistent with the ideas or intentions of a future property owner.

“We intend for our final report to be an expression of the local community’s desires for preservation and community use of the property,” Campbell said. “It should be an important part of any public decision affecting future ownership and use of this historic landmark.”

Draft designs representing three variations of a community center were supported by planning grants from Restore Oregon and the Kinsman Foundation, and with supplemental donations from the Oak Grove Community Council and several local citizens. Draft conceptual designs developed with professional assistance from architect Paul Falsetto will be presented for public discussion at a meeting scheduled from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 6, at the Oak Grove United Methodist Church, 14700 S.E. Rupert Drive.

Built in 1936, Concord School is recognized as the Oak Lodge community’s only remaining, prominent example of New Deal-era architecture and sits on Restore Oregon’s Most Endangered Places list for 2016. But the history of the school site dates back to 1890 when the first of three schools bearing the name “Concord” was established at this location. At that time, Concord was still the only school in a school district originally formed in 1856, which was then much larger than the current North Clackamas district.

Following the school’s closure in 2014, many comments submitted to the North Clackamas School District suggested that the school property should be preserved for its historic value and open space, and used for community purposes. In response to the many comments, the school board delayed action on disposal of the property to allow time for proposals from interested parties. The school board intends to make a decision regarding the school’s future by next spring.

Since its inception, the Concord Partnership has been joined by five local community organizations and various individual supporters. Member organizations currently include the Oak Grove Community Council, Jennings Lodge Community Planning Organization, Oak Lodge History Detectives, McLoughlin Area Plan Implementation Team and Friends of Concord.

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