The Gavilan College Measure X Ad Hoc Committee discussed the status of a future campus location in San Benito County at its Oct. 15 meeting at the Briggs Building in Hollister. All three committee members attended—trustees Rachel Perez, Irma González and Jeanie Wallace—as well as Gavilan President/Superintendent Kathleen Rose and vice president of administrative services Michael Renzi.
Rob Barthelman, an architect with Steinberg Hart, and Ann and Matt Kennedy of the AKG: A Kennedy Group presented updates on the proposed campus known as Fairview Corners. Out of the $248 million Measure X bond approved by voters in 2018, $52 million is allocated for a San Benito campus and will cover Phase 1 development. Documents on Fariview Corners’ progress and planning are below.
AKG is conducting a search for a project manager. Barthelman said they are looking at several possible companies, and Rose added they hoped to hire someone soon. Barthelman also discussed the potential design of the new campus and listened to questions and comments.
Wallace voiced concern that several of the social and study areas in the campus design were open and students would have nowhere to hide in an active shooter situation. Barthelman thanked her for her comment and said he would take it under advisement. He asked for the community to look at the plans and give their feedback.
County Supervisors Jim Gillio and Mark Medina also attended the meeting, and during public comments Gillio said, “We are here to support you, we have our shovels ready.”
Perez and González assured the group that while groundbreaking at Fairview Corners won’t happen for a while, much of the unseen work is underway, such as mitigation per California Environmental Quality Act requirements and sewer planning with the city of Hollister. It’s unclear when groundbreaking will occur, but it may not be until 2023.
Several community members voiced concerns about the future of Fairview Corners and reminded the committee of Gavilan’s failure to build a campus with funds from Measure E. San Benito voters expected funds from Measure E, approved in 2004, would be used to build a campus in the county. Instead, Gavilan used the money to build a campus in Coyote Valley that is mostly dedicated to law enforcement education.
In 2014, then Gavilan President Steven Kinsella wrote: “Once again, our commitment remains unchanged: to fulfill the promise of Measure E by providing facilities for TWO future campuses, that will provide instruction that prepares students for university transfer and career education, with appropriate support services for students success, to the residents of both the northern and southern ends of district.”
At the meeting, San Benito LULAC President Richard Perez Sr. expressed concern regarding the amount of money allocated to the campus.
“We need to be aggressive,” he said. “We have already entrusted Gavilan with our money. Gavilan owes us substantial answers.”
In addition to the $52 million set aside for Fairview Corners, $148.6 million of Measure X funds will be spent on improvements to Gavilan’s Gilroy campus; $28.4 million on district-wide projects; and $19 million for program contingencies.
Discussion also touched on community use of the proposed campus. Lara Lichten of San Benito Dance Academy said she would like to see Gavilan build a performing arts theatre where local groups such as hers, the San Benito Stage Company and Flying Colors Dance could put on shows for the public.
As the meeting closed, committee members thanked attendees for coming to share their concerns and ideas. Rose said that San Benito County would get a “full degree and certificate campus.”
Former Hollister Councilwoman Mickie Luna advised the committee to continue holding their meetings in Hollister.
“There is a lot of mistrust,” she said. “Communication has to exist.”
The next Measure X Citizens’ Oversight Committee meeting is scheduled for Oct. 24 at 6 p.m. at the Morgan Hill Community and Cultural Center, 17060 Monterey Street in Morgan Hill. The next Measure X Ad Hoc Committee meeting has not yet been scheduled.
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