The Gavilan College Board of Trustees met May 10 in the Hollister City Council Chambers to receive an update on the proposed San Benito County Education Center, which would feature 25,000 square feet of space on college-owned land near the corner of Airline Highway and Fairview Road. The college currently has classroom space at the Briggs Building in downtown Hollister.
Vice President of Administrative Services Frederick E. Harris told the board that the college is still waiting for the mitigation permit that would push the project forward. “We are sixth in line for review,” he said.
Hollister community members Marty Richman and Roy Lompa spoke during the public comment period.
Richman protested what he termed the board's misappropriation of Measure E funds from a voter-approved bond measure — a portion of which was targeted toward creating a Gavilan campus in San Benito County.
Approved by voters on March 2, 2004, the $108 million bond was designed to help the college upgrade outdated plumbing and wiring, renovate aging classrooms and libraries, improve access for disabled students, improve campus safety, and expand satellite sites.
Richman listed voter-approved projects with which he said the board failed to follow through, the Hollister campus being among those listed. “As a group you have screwed the county,” he said.
Lompa said, “I think you’re ripping off San Benito County, as trustees or whatever you call yourselves.” He then asked the board, “are you getting any rent money from the land?”
The college purchased 80 acres of land in 2008 at Fairview Corners, located across Airline Highway from the Ridgemark Golf and Country Club, as a possible site for the future Hollister campus.
College President Steven Kinsella, who is retiring this year, said the college received revenue from row crops when the previous owner had the land, but had not gotten anything since.
Lompa continued by saying “you better get some of that money back, the money you took from the taxpayers. I think you’re wasting San Benito County's money.”
The next Gavilan College Board of Trustees meeting will be June 14 on the Gavilan College campus in social science room 206.