The Parker House at the North Willamette Research and Extension Center in Aurora is a special place. The house was a gift from the Parker (Parker— as in OSU's Parker Stadium, now named Reser Stadium) family that donated it to NWREC in 1992 when Joan and Jack Parker purchased their new property located at the southwest corner of the research center.
The Parker House at NWREC has been used as an office space for faculty and staff since that donation. As a former home, the building has a kitchen and dining area that has served as a lunch room for faculty, staff and summer students.
The pressing need at NWREC has been for a modern and state-of-the-art lab space to support faculty research.
In the fall of 2019, NWREC received a $375,000 block of capital improvement funding from OSU to remodel Parker House office spaces into three labs — plant materials, soils and chemistry, and molecular.
Preliminary plans for the project were being developed at the time the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and hopes to begin the remodel last September didn't materialize. Additional funding was needed to finance the entire project, too.
Then, just before Christmas, NWREC received another gift. Northwest Farm Credit Services, based in Salem, gave NWREC $250,000 for infrastructure improvements.
The Northwest Farm Credit Services' gift to NWREC was part of a larger $1.5 million contribution the company has made to the College of Agricultural Sciences at OSU and is helping fund numerous projects and programs on and off campus.
"The timing of this important gift couldn't have been better," NWREC Director Mike Bondi said. "Our budget for the project grew to $570,000 and we knew we could be facing additional costs due to newly discovered septic and asbestos issues that needed attention. The Farm Credit gift was a real godsend."
Since the first of the year, plans have been progressing, according to Bondi. Permitting is being finalized and demolition will be the first step. Once the demolition and abatement work is complete, construction will be ready to begin. The west end of the Parker House will be extended 12 feet.
Three labs (each about 20-feet-by-23-feet) will be created. A new lab entry will be added, too, with new restrooms to address accessibility standards.
"The Parker remodel will be a huge step toward upgrading the older facilities at NWREC. Our faculty will all have access to these labs for their work with space designed for their needs. We hope to move into the new labs later this summer," Bondi said.
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