Oktoberfest visitors will be celebrating in a new building in a familiar location come September.
The new Mount Angel Community Building and Center will be ready to use for Oktoberfest, Oktoberfest President John Gooley said.
“Even if the building is not completely finished, we will have the necessary permits to move in,” Gooley said. “We will have approval for fire, safety, and lighting by then.”
The 41-year-old former Oktoberfest building was demolished in late February. Around 75 community members and leaders gathered March 2 for the groundbreaking ceremony.
Rich Duncan is the primary contractor in partnership with the Strategic Economic Development Corp. (SEDCOR) Construction Alliance of Salem.
“We will be on an aggressive schedule but we will be ready for the festival,” Duncan said.
Duncan Construction was the builder of the recent Extreme Makeover of the Oregon School for the Deaf.
“He clearly knows how to handle deadlines and get the job done,” said Jim Hall, treasurer of Mount Angel Community Foundation, which is the fund-raising organization for various community projects, including the new community building.
Construction was set to start March 7 on the site of the old building. The building will be 20,000 square-feet and will have 119 parking spaces. The main entrance will be on Wilco Highway, the same as for the old building.
Hall said funding for the project is about $200,000 short of its goal of $2.2 million.
“We will be going to other major organizations and individuals in the community and we expect to have the full amount in hand,” Hall said.
He said the foundation has received major grants from more than nine organizations and individuals and dozens of small donations. The foundation has received more than $50,000 from the sale of bricks to the public. The bricks will be engraved with the name of the donor and will be used to pave the plaza at the entrance of the community building.
The foundation also will hold a drawing with prizes including vacation travel vouchers and cash prizes during the annual Mount Angel Independence Day celebration.
The construction project will be used as a teaching tool for high school students to learn the phases of the construction industry.
“We will be losing 40 percent of our skilled working force in the years to come and we will have a great demand for plumbers, electricians, carpenters and others in the construction trades,” Duncan said. “Along with SEDCOR, we will be bringing out high school students to the job site to learn first-hand about reading plans, safety and construction skills.”
The students will be taught in a manufactured home that has been converted to a classroom on the job site.
One hitch the project has encountered is development of Cleveland Street as a paved access. The only option currently available is paved access to unpaved Academy Street, then to Wilco Highway. This option would cost about $75,000, Hall said.
However, he said, it is in the long-term best interest of the building project and the city of Mount Angel to have Cleveland Street paved as the major access.
For that purpose, the Mount Angel Community Foundation has asked an engineer to design a Cleveland Street improvement plan that can be achieved financially and “be a vast improvement over the deplorable conditions of this existing city street.”
Hall said Gooley has obtained a commitment from a Salem contractor to build Cleveland Street as proposed by the engineer at an estimated cost of $175,000. The foundation will be able to redirect $75,000 to paving Cleveland Street and suggested that it “seems only fair and equitable,” property owners who benefit from the paving should share in the cost.
Hall also proposed that the city could consider an inter-fund loan to be repaid on a reasonable schedule.