Over a span of years, a number of civic-minded volunteers conducted listening sessions involving a wide cross-section of our community to come up with a vision of how to address social determinants of health and ways to better deliver welfare services.
Their vision is the Klamath Works Human Services Campus.
The decision by the Oregon Human Services and Administrative Services departments to pursue a new facility at TimberMill Shores rather than at the Klamath Works campus is not viewed as constructive towards the community’s vision.
A number of civic leaders and elected officials, concerned about the proposed site along Lake Ewauna, went to work immediately on an alternative that would address Rubicon Investment’s interest in building a facility for DHS offices, and would better fit with the Klamath Works model.
The alternative plan they crafted would also accommodate a growing community need for educational space dedicated to health and medicine, science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) curricula, and allow the potential expansion of local health services.
The Lake Ewauna site, which was ranked second out of nine sites visited by local DHS officials, would relocate the offices providing child welfare, aging, people with disabilities, and self-sufficiency programs from its current site along Klamath Avenue.
The Klamath Works Human Services Campus site, 1940 S. Sixth St., proposed for possible DHS offices in Klamath Falls was ranked sixth, according to state documents, however many people dispute the site scoring and the evaluation processes.
Klamath Works was the low bidder after the first and second rounds in the process. It was not until after commercial real estate brokers Cushman & Wakefield, Chicago, submitted counter-proposals that Rubicon Investments became the low bidder, although it was still not the highest scoring proposal.
“There are many questions surrounding the issue and concerns about its future, and it could take years to sort it all out,” Stewart said. “That’s not fair to the people DHS serves or to our community, which wants to help those clients be successful.”
“This plan would obviate those concerns.”
Here’s how it would work:
In order to create more classroom space for health and STEM educational opportunities and to benefit local high schools and colleges, as well as meet its own needs for expanded space for staff and community education, Sky Lakes would purchase the current Pelican Cinemas building. Coming Attractions, which owns the cinema-plex, would then be in position to negotiate the construction of a new movie theater building at TimberMill Shores. Coming Attraction officials have expressed an interest in this proposal.
With Rubicon’s investment in TimberMill Shores and that site’s development potentially protected, the way would be open for Rubicon to build the DHS facility at the Klamath Works Human Services Campus.
To support this, in exchange for Rubicon’s agreement to build on the South Sixth Street campus, Klamath Works LLC would allow them to use the land without charge. “Neither Klamath Works nor Sky Lakes Medical Center stand to benefit financially from the proposal that has been put forward,” Stewart emphasized.
“To be clear: It is our purpose and our aim to help ensure DHS clients have easier access to services. That means the required property at Klamath Works would be made available to Rubicon solely in exchange for their agreement to develop the facility,” Stewart said.
The Klamath Works Human Services Campus currently includes transport services, case workers, and community health workers at the Sky Lakes Outpatient Care Management Department, a sobering station is being developed to help people with alcohol and substance addictions with more services to follow.
The campus also is adjacent to the Klamath Open Door Family Practice health clinic and Klamath Family Head Start. Three Klamath Gospel Mission buildings are currently under construction.
Said Stewart of the cooperative plan: “I am still optimistic that everyone can come together to do the right thing for the community.”
Press release provided from Paul Steward, CEO, Sky Lakes Medical Center.