Over 60 San Benito County residents participated in a Jan. 28 public forum on the planned Gavilan College campus known as Fairview Corners. The campus will be built near Ridgemark at the southeast corner of Fairview Road and Highway 25.
School representatives included President Kathleen Rose, trustees Irma Gonzalez, Rachel Perez, and Jeanie Wallace, Rob Barthelman and Jakky Figueroa of architectural firm Steinberg Hart, and newly hired project manager Damon Felice of Felice Constructing Services. Attendees gave input on what services the campus should provide and how it should look.
“We want you in the conversation,” Rose said.
Funds for construction stem from Measure X, a $248 million school bond approved by San Benito and Santa Clara County voters in 2018. Of that total, $52 million is allocated for Phase 1 of the San Benito campus.
Barthelman and Figueroa led the discussion and provided outlets for community members, arranged in tabled groups, to speak their minds. They asked those present to imagine what they would want as students, as local businesses, and as community members.
There was discussion on designating a room for businesses and organizations to use for meetings, as well as designating the San Benito campus as a disaster-safe zone and post-disaster gathering place.
Several people said the new community college campus needed to provide certification programs and AA/AS options, night classes for returning or older students who work during the day, and low-mileage electric shuttles to provide transportation for those without access to a vehicle. Eco-friendly ideas included solar roofs, a community garden that could supply produce to a school cafeteria, and nature trails.
There was no discussion of funding or timelines as there have been at previous meetings about Fairview Corners and Measure X. Though some work is underway, such as mitigation per California Environmental Quality Act requirements and sewer planning with the city of Hollister, previous statements have put off groundbreaking until 2023.
Asked about hiring locally for the construction work, new project manager Felice said, “We are going to do our best.”
He cited the bidding process as often being a problem in hiring locals because the school has to go with the best bid.
“We will do community outreach to get local contractors,” he said. “They are paying property tax for this and it will keep more traffic off the roads.”
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