Expanding infrastructure for new Oregon State Hospital

From KVAL.com, August 21, 2010

Drivers have been noticing a lot of work on a large piece of property along Highway 99 at Junction City.

Some have wondered if it’s the start of building the new state psychiatric hospital and state prison. The plans for those facilities were announced back in 2007.

The work now underway near Mill Iron road and Highway 99 is for the infrastructure needed to accommodate the mental hospital and the minimum and medium security prison.

KVAL News asked Junction City’s interim City Administrator, Jamon Kent, where things stand.

“We’re really trying to get water and sewer out here to the site. So that’s the biggest project,” he said.

It’s one of 7 infrastructure projects which also include building a road in to the site of the hospital and the prison. The State of Oregon is providing the city $34 million to develop the land.

The current projects are already having a big impact on Junction City. Planning Director Kay Bork says they’re working to make sure those impacts are positive for the community.

“We’re working with a citizen group which is helping the city plan for the long-term effects of the prison and hospital coming to our area,” she said.

Bork said Grain Millers is moving its facility from Eugene to Junction City “probably as a result of having this infrastructure available.”

She said they are hearing from businesses that are looking in Junction City to relocate. “So it’s already happening. I expect when there is construction and you actually see buildings on the ground we’ll even see more, so it’s been positive so far,” Bork said.

Kent tells KVAL News there will be about 1,500 jobs in Junction City when the hospital and the prison are built. “We hope we have some opportunities to employ some of our citizens,” Kent said. “The associated businesses and other activities, we are hoping will see the value of coming to Junction City.”

For now it’s a bit of a waiting game as the state works to balance it’s budget and make decisions on building projects. Kent says like everyone else, they are waiting to see what’s going to happen. “We’re pretty sure that we’re going to have a hospital. The prison may be delayed, it may not be delayed. We will have to wait and see what the state does.”

The plan is to open the hospital in the fall of 2013. The state is hosting a community meeting to discuss the hospital and prison projects on Tuesday, August 31. It’s from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Scandinavian Festival Hall on West 5th in Junction City.