Evergreen breaks ground on expansion
Things are hopping at the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum complex, where construction crews have broken ground for a new chapel, campground, Scout memorial and adventure park, and hope to soon begin work on the complex’s first lodging facility as well.
The lodge isn’t scheduled for completion until some time in 2014, acording to the museum’s executive director, Larry Wood.
But he said Evergreen hopes to see the rest of the work completed by early June. “If I were to pick a day, I would pick June 6,” he said, noting Evergreen’s aviation museum, space museum and water park all opened on June 6 of their respective years of completion.
If that’s the case, then you might want to marke June 6, 2014, on your calendar for the lodge. “It’s kind of a tradition with us, and with Hoffman Construction,” Wood said.
Evergreen, which values its role in hosting educational programs on military history, chose the date deliberately. It commemorates the Normandy Invasion of D-Day, 1944, the turning point in World War II.
A start on the lodge is currently awaiting a green light from Del Smith, founder of the firm from which the museum complex sprang, McMinnville-based Evergreen International Aviation.
Wood said the project can’t begin until financing has been secured. “Obviously, we’re not going to just spring for the whole thing out of Mr. Smith’s Levi pockets,” he said.
However, construction crews have plenty to keep them busy in the meantime.
The museum’s Michael King Smith Foundation is planning to turn a roughly 10-acre parcel of oak groves into a local campground.
An adventure park, to feature suspension bridges and obstacle courses, is also in the works. So is a Boy Scout memorial.
Trails have been laid out and portable toilets installed, Wood said, so the area is already usable for Scout groups and/or local families who don’t mind roughing it a bit.
“If you wanted to camp in there right now we’d let you,” he said. “We killed all the poison oak — we think — and the trails are laid in.”
Eventually, the site will feature additional amenities, including permanent restroom and shower facilities.
The museum is planning to construct the lodge next to its Wings & Waves Waterpark. It is envisioning 100,000 square feet encompassing 96 rooms.
Like other museum facilities, the lodge will also feature an educational mission, Wood said.
He said internships will be offered to hospitality industry students from Chemeketa Community College, Linfield College and George Fox University, and possibly Washington State University. “It’s a great opportunity for interns,” he said.
Wood said it would also prove a big boon to the local economy. He said its mix of family-style and high-end, executive-suite accommodations would serve to draw more tourists to town.
“We want people to stop, visit our museum, visit our water park, visit our downtown and have dinner in a nice restaurant,” he said.