Education / Schools

Gavilan College hosts forum to discuss San Benito County campus

Project still in Phase One as planning continues.

On June 23, Gavilan College held a public meeting about the proposed San Benito County campus set to be built on the Southeast corner of Highway 25 and Fairview Road in Hollister. Trustees, Superintendent/President Kathleen Rose and Vice President of Administrative Services Michael Renzi were joined by Rob Barthelman of architectural firm Steinberg Hart, project manager Damon Felice of Felice Constructing Services and Matt and Ann Kennedy from A Kennedy Group

Planning for the campus—known as Fairview Corners— is in Phase One, which will be paid for with funds from Measure X, which voters approved in 2018. This phase consists of one building with four to five classrooms, a computer lab, three science labs, a coffee bar and administrative offices. Two buildings could be designed, but that would not change the room count. Matt and Ann Kennedy said they are currently accepting requests for proposals from architects and general contractors for the design and construction of the campus, and Barthelman is showing several possible design types.

A Kennedy Group’s timetable is to award projects by Nov. 24 and receive trustees’ approval by Dec. 8.

Several infrastructure modifications will need to be made before construction can begin. They include the widening of Fairview Road and the relocation of PG&E lines and sewer hookups. The Phase One budget is $59 million; only $54 million of the $248 million of Measure X funds have been allocated to the campus project. There was talk in the meeting about this discrepancy and how the difference could be amended. Several options are on the table, and there could be some adjustments of Measure X money allocations which will be evaluated from a legal standpoint.

Rose mentioned that the college is in talks with Dividend Homes about shared use funds. Dividend Homes owns the housing estate next to Fairview corners and the college and Dividend Homes entered an agreement for shared use funds which include the access road to the school and the required California Environmental Quality Act California tiger salamander incidental take permit, as well as mitigation and monitoring of the salamander at Mariposa Peak.

During discussion of the budget, Trustee Irma Gonzalez said the project should be in Phase Two by now.

“Where are the funds going to come from for that?” she asked. “Will there be more bond measures?” These questions were not answered. 

During a slideshow presentation of possible campus layouts, it was noted there was only one road in and out of the campus. Gonzalez asked how safe that would be and if the fire marshall would even permit it. She also questioned the one road in and out of the campus for emergencies such as an active shooter, and said that one building could make emergencies more dangerous.

Barthelman said there would be pedestrian routes and that there would probably be a locked emergency vehicle gate on Highway 25. The subject was dropped until the end of the meeting when Christina Salvin, an instructor at the Briggs Building in Hollister, pressed Gavilan for more answers. She wondered how safe pedestrian routes would be and if there was a way to bring a road in from Highway 25 or from Dividend Homes. Barthelman did not think those options were viable.

Project Manager Felice said he would consult the fire department about the one road access plan.

Trustee Wallace noted that there is “not enough commitment” from the public. Felice added that he is the point man for the public and said residents with questions about the project can always come to him with concerns. He can be contacted at 831-856-7000



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Carmel de Bertaut

Carmel has a BA in Natural Sciences/Biodiversity Stewardship from San Jose State University and an AA in Communications Studies from West Valley Community College. She reports on science and the environment, arts and human interest pieces. Carmel has worked in the ecological and communication fields and is an avid creative writer and hiker. She has been reporting for BenitoLink since May, 2018 and covers Science and the Environment and Arts and Culture.