COOS BAY — Coos County and the city of Coos Bay are working together to clean up the site of the old Englewood school in order to let Oregon Coast Community Action convert the property into low income housing.

It’s been some time since the property was a usable school building. In 2014, the building caught fire and rendered the structure "Dangerous" and "Unsafe to Occupy." While the former owner was ordered to abate the dangerous and nuisance conditions on the property, he failed to comply and left the area.

In 2018, the county foreclosed on the property for unpaid taxes. Both the city and the county have a shared desire to abate the dangerous and nuisance conditions by cleaning up the site.

“It’s a really old building, it probably had lead based paint, because of the heating fixtures and the lights in it we have some PCB’s, and no doubt a school of that age has some asbestos,” Coos Bay City Manager Rodger Craddock said. That’s what a lot of the cleanup will be, there’s also a manmade landfill on the back of the property, but we’re not able to access that yet until we can clean up hazards before.”

On May 7, both the Coos County Commissioners and the Coos Bay City Council approved an intergovernmental agreement paving the way for the city to begin the process of crafting a cleanup plan for the required federal and state review/approval process and securing a contractor to do the work.

“The funding that we’re using is part of funding we got through the Department of Environmental Quality, and it’s required to be used for clean water activities. The nexus to this project is the fact that it’s up on a hillside and when it rains it drains into the slough,” Craddock said.

It’s estimated the federal and state review/approval process will likely take around six months.

“I suspect we’ll have it cleaned by this time next year,” Craddock said.  

The estimated cost to clean up the site is around $700,000. Staff have been working with the county and Oregon Coast Community Action on an agreement wherein the city will undertake the necessary clean-up activities at the site and in return, the county will provide the property at no cost to ORCCA to be used for the development of a needed supportive housing development.

According to Craddock, the city’s assessment of the property believes that ORCCA can develop around 20 units in that space for supportive housing.

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Nicholas A. Johnson can be reached at 541-266-6049, or by email at nicholas.johnson@theworldlink.com.