CWI seeks $39 million from voters to build health science building

Teya Vitu//September 4, 2018

CWI seeks $39 million from voters to build health science building

Teya Vitu//September 4, 2018

College of Western Idaho proposes building a four-story health science building on its Nampa campus. Image courtesy of College of Western Idaho.

The College of Western Idaho will ask Ada County and Canyon County voters Nov. 6 to approve a $39 million, 10-year plant facilities levy to build a four-story health science building on its Nampa campus.

The 110,000-square-foot structure would be the first building CWI builds in its 10-year history. The college has functioned in its first decade in mostly leased existing buildings in Nampa and Boise and three existing building it owns in Nampa.

The levy will pay for an expansion much reduced in scope after voters in November 2016 defeated a broad $180 million bond to build the first structure at a proposed Boise campus as  well as the health sciences, student success and a physical plant at the Nampa campus.

The 2016 bond did receive 57 percent voter approval, but public general obligation bonds in Idaho require two-thirds or 66.7 percent approval. Levies are limited to 10 years and only require 55 percent voter approval.

“The community wanted us to borrow the least amount for the shortest time,” CWI spokesman Mark Browning said.

The projected cost for the health science buildings is $49 million. The Legislature approved $10 million for the project in 2017.

“We will build as much as we can for $49 million,” Browning said.

The CWI Board of Trustees on Sept. 4 unanimously approved establishing a plant facilities levy fund and placing the levy on the November ballot before the Sept. 7 deadline.

“After the failed bond campaign, we did a listening tour throughout the valley and we listened,” Board Chairman Mark Dunham said.

The health science building rose as the top priority. CWI teaches programs in nursing, surgical technician,  respiratory therapy, physical therapy assistants  and others.

“At this time, our focus is on the health science building,” Dunham said. “We are not focused on anything other than that. As soon as we can, we will move forward with other buildings. Right now we don’t have the money to build out (the Boise) property.  We are still committed to building at that property.”

College of Western Idaho has the least developed campus among all the state’s community colleges and universities and also the most students at more than 32,000.  CWI presently owns only the Nampa Academic Building and the Micron Education Center (former Sam’s Club) in Nampa, the Canyon County Center in Caldwell, and the 10-acre Boise property at Whitewater Park Boulevard and Main Street – a parcel seen as the site for a future second campus.

CWI is in due diligence to purchase the Administration Building, the Aspen Building and the Multipurpose Building that the college has leased since opening in 2008. They are located in a business center across the street from the main Nampa campus.

CWI also leases five buildings in Boise. The college spends $2 million a year leasing buildings, Trustee Stan Bastian said.

Health science programs are now scattered in four buildings in Nampa and Boise. A health science building would consolidate all those programs on the Nampa campus and allow for adding more programs.

CWI hopes to have the health science building complete in 2022, CWI spokesman Ashley Smith said.