PAGE – Coconino Community College alumna Jessica Dodson was the first generation in her family to attend college.
Living on the Navajo Nation, with no electricity or running water, she had to be creative in doing her homework, and the drive to the college in Page was long.
“It was difficult,” Dodson said. “But I focused on, ‘I’m doing it for myself.’”
If there had been student housing at CCC in Page when she was a student, her journey might have been easier. She’s certain it would help the educational journeys of students with experiences similar to hers.
CCC, through a Public Private Partnership with GenTerra Enterprises, is working on a student and workforce housing project on the CCC Page site, where the funding does not come from CCC, but from fundraising done by GenTerra. Representatives from CCC and GenTerra met with Page city staff and officials Thursday, March 4, to begin the process of making the project a reality. And city staff appear ready to work to help get the project out of the conceptual stage and into breaking ground.
Tim Suan, community development director for the city, opened the meeting attended by several staff members to provide input on the presentation of a conceptual site plan offered by Gary Todd of Todd Associates, a partner of GenTerra and architect for the proposed project.
“For a lot of people, this is the first time of seeing this map and seeing this project,” Suan said, adding that the project would experience a number of benchmarks to meet as it moved its way through the process.
Tim Kinney, president and CEO of GenTerra, and Richard Bowen, senior vice president of GenTerra, said they were present to offer some insight on the conceptual plan as well as begin the conversation on next steps.
Bowen said, “We want enough background information that would inform us … in moving this project forward.”
Todd explained that GenTerra, along with CCC, conducted several meetings with community residents and leaders to discuss what they would like to see in terms of student and workforce housing needs. The feedback proved valuable, and that feedback was used to create the conceptual plan.
In essence: The plan is divided into three phases, with the first phase to take place on CCC property to the south of the campus that would include student housing and Career and Technical Education teaching facilities. The second phase would include more student housing closer to Lake Powell Boulevard and Cameron Road. A possible third phase would include an entire section of permanent housing devoted to Page’s workforce – such as healthcare professionals, teachers and more – in need of affordable housing options.
The main thrust of the CCC project will be to create affordable housing for students, like Dodson, who would benefit from residential living near campus, and possibly to provide additional housing to workforce personnel during the city’s tourist season. The number of units and the number of beds are still in development, said Todd. But, he added, the conceptual plan was made with three-floor buildings, with four-bedroom units with 148 beds as capacity in the first phase.
“Of course, this is very conceptual at this point,” Todd said.
City staff, in turn, gave insight into some next steps, which included a host of infrastructure concerns as they relate to traffic volumes and how to coordinate the project with the city’s master planning. Additionally, a number of surveys and reports will have to be generated on rights of way, geotechnics of the area, engineering standards, storm drainage, utilities, design standards and more.
Consensus was that the conceptual plan fits with the city’s master plan and all of the design specifics appear to fit within zoning parameters of the area.
Bowen said that to make the project achieve the goal of being affordable for students and the seasonal workforce for Page, GenTerra is in the process of securing grant funding to help with the cost of the project and to lower the price point of the units.
CCC President Colleen Smith said that the community college has been discussing the possibility of the project for the last two years, and plans are already in the works on creating programs and class schedules for Page that will not overlap with the community’s busy season, so that the housing may be more widely available to that seasonal workforce.
“That’s been the daydream, and it looks like it might become a possibility,” Smith said. “I believe this project will have a positive impact to help students of northern Arizona with education and help workers during high season find a place to live.”
After listening to the presentation, Page City Manager Darren Coldwell said, “I think this is a great project. We hope it gets off the ground. Council and myself support it.”
Following the presentation to city staff, a second presentation was made for Page Mayor Bill Diak.
“The need, we know, is there,” Diak said, adding that his primary concern is to keep the project from losing momentum, which has happened in the past with other developers.
Kinney and Bowen were both adamant that they were determined to drive the project to completion for the residents of Page and the students of CCC.
For more information about the Public Private Partnership between CCC and GenTerra Enterprises and the Page project, contact Kay Leum, CCC executive director of Extended Learning, at (928) 645-6682, or April Sandoval, CCC assistant to the president, at (928) 226-4217.
Editor’s note: Larry Hendricks is the senior manager of public relations and marketing at Coconino Community College.