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Saving old trees will delay community center project

Efforts to preserve three nearly 130-foot-tall cedar trees will delay completion of the Jacksonville Community Center project and increase costs by $88,000.

An arborist found that a 130-foot-tall cedar was diseased during the city approval-review process by the Planning Department and the Historic and Architectural Review Commission. The process determined the need for special foundation work to protect the roots of the cedars, and the diseased tree was taken down.

Completion of the project was expected in about four to five months following a May 31 groundbreaking. Now, the center isn't expected to open until December or January, said David Doi, a center representative.

Center leaders have figured out how to save on some expenses and will seek donations and look for grants to cover the overage.

After more than 17 years of efforts, the center had amassed $575,000 to build a 2,000-square-foot addition to the 800-square-foot, city-owned Sampson Cottage at Fourth and Main streets that served as the center. A 50-year lease at $1 per year was given to the center by the city. Ausland Group is the contractor for the project.

The center is called Cedars on Fourth in recognition of the trees standing out front.

A boring process that will allow construction of a foundation on piers will preserve the roots of the three remaining cedars at the site. Foundation work was originally budgeted at $11,000 but will now be $99,000.

“We expected cost overruns and budgeted for some, but nothing as substantial as $88,000,” said JCC President Rick Pasche.

Contractors and volunteers involved in demolition, painting and landscaping are participating to bring about savings of $19,000. Lowe’s has reduced its cost of materials by 10 percent, which will save $5,000.

Rogue Valley Sanitary donated the use and hauling of dumpsters, which will save $3,000. Volunteers had a large dumpster half-filled by Thursday as they removed the interior and siding from the existing building.

“That’s another example of where we went to someone where we had a line item, and we can now zero that out,” said Doi. “We really have just begun that process.”

Earth-moving by bulldozers will begin soon, as will construction of a fence around the project. Fundraising and grant efforts are in the beginning stages, said Doi.

Pieces of the removed cedar that could be finished or used for artwork are being offered for sale to help offset the increased expense. Rounds will go for $150 and squares of the wood for $200. Longer pieces, up to 7 feet, are also available and might be used for countertops, benches or tables. Some of the wood will become trim or framing inside the center.

A great room for events and classes, smaller meeting rooms, an events kitchen, ADA-compliant restrooms and a small outdoor patio will be created. Center leaders envision events and classes being offered for all ages.

Tax-deductible donations can be sent to Jacksonville Community Center, P.O. Box 1435, Jacksonville, OR 97530. Those interested in purchasing pieces of the felled cedar should email info@cedarson4th.org.

— Tony Boom is an Ashland freelance writer. Reach him at tboomwriter@gmail.com