Five Umpqua Community College engineering students squinted in the sunshine Tuesday afternoon as they surveyed land for a campground at Mildred Kanipe Memorial Park.
The students are designing the campground, which Douglas County officials hope will make the park self-sustaining.
The Friends of Mildred Kanipe Park must raise $65,000 by July 31. County commissioners have pledged to match the money as an alternative to logging 20 acres to pay for the camp’s construction.
The engineering students will graduate in June and are surveying and designing the campground to gain experience.
“The timing was good, we were looking for a project for the students,” UCC instructor Clay Baumgartner said.
A county surveyor set control points for the students to have a starting place. They surveyed the land this week and will return to campus to design the campground and draw up a plan for bidding contractors.
Parks Director Gary Groth said the students will save the county money.
“We would have hired an engineer, so it is saving a significant amount of money,” he said.
Baumgartner said surveys and design typically consumes 10 to 20 percent of a project’s cost. He estimated the students’ work would be valued at $15,000 to $20,000.
Student Michael Trimnell, 26, of Winston said the project should help him get a job.
“I definitely think this will give us a leg up,” he said. “It shows them what you’ve done, and it’s real experience. It’s not a paid job, but it’s real work.”
Trimnell said he looks forward to returning to the site to see the campground.
The campground, slated for the southeast section of the park, will have 20 to 30 campsites divided into equestrian and non-equestrian areas. The campground will include horse corrals and water troughs.
Students will design a water system that connects to a well and the county’s creek water supply. Two restrooms are planned, as well as water spigots between campsites.
There be no recreational vehicle hookups, Baumgartner said.
The students returned to the classroom to put the surveyed data into a computer program. They will map the terrain and design the campground next.
The county would have had to hire someone to do the surveying work, which could have postponed the construction of the campsite, Baumgartner said.
Baumgartner said the county helped fund the UCC engineering program several years ago, and this is a way to acknowledge the help. His wife, Karen Roberson, is on the Friends board.
The group’s secretary, Midge McGinnis, said it’s “fantastic” the students are surveying the campground.
“It gets the students introduced to it and it gives them training. It’s going to lower the cost for the county,” she said.
The students plan to have the documents ready for bidding by the end of June.
As of Wednesday night, the Friends had reported raising $52,201. If the Friends don’t raise the $65,000, the county plans to cut trees next winter to pay for the campground.
Groth said he hopes campground will be completed by Sept. 1.
The students are designing the slopes of the campground as well as how the entrance road connects the campground to Elkhead Road. They must craft designs to widen the road to 24 feet, twice the current width, to meet safety codes.
Student Robert Lee, 43, of Roseburg was laid off from Alcan Cable in 2010 when the plant closed. He returned to school to study engineering.
Lee said the routine of working on the campground will prepares him for the future.
“It’s a beneficial, start-to-finish project,” he said.
The design will allow a contractor to visualize the area without visiting the site, he said.
Groth said it is a good partnership between the county and UCC.
“As a former student myself, I would much rather work on a real project than an imaginary one,” he said.
Student Claude Clark, 62, of Roseburg said he likes working in the field.
“It’s a lot more than doing something in the classroom,” he said. “We’re doing something that will materialize.”
Clark, a veteran, hopes to work for as a surveyor or designer for the federal government after he graduates.
Baumgartner said the project will make the students more attractive to potential employers.
“We’d like to make the community aware of some of the skills our students have when they graduate,” he said.
• You can reach reporter Betsy Swanback at 541-957-4208 or firstname.lastname@example.org.