With scissors the length of an arm, San Benito High School representatives cut the ceremonial ribbon Oct. 15 to officially announce the closure of the part of Nash Road that intersects the high school.
A group of more than 70 people gathered near the north gate Monday morning to partake in the ceremonial ribbon-cutting and to listen to several speakers discuss what the action means to students and the community.
The Nash Road closure had been a talking point between school officials, local government and the community since 2015. Among the supporters of the action at the time was Mayor Ignacio Velazquez and Councilman Karson Klauer, while former councilman Victor Gomez was a flip vote with some conditions. Those who had spoken against the closure were residents living near the campus, councilwoman Mickie Luna and former councilman Ray Friend.
San Benito High School Superintendent Shawn Tennenbaum took the lead and thanked all who were involved in closing part of Nash Road, including trustees, Blach Construction, the Hollister City Council, San Benito County Board of Supervisors and the voters who supported bond measures G and U.
Among speakers was the high school’s board president Steve Delay, who reflected on the years it took close Nash Road near the school.
“We were told so many times ‘never going to close that road, never going to close that road. It’s never going to happen,’” Delay said. “And it’s finally nice to see it being closed and we are looking forward to closing it permanently down the road.”
The portion of Nash Road that intersects the high school will be closed from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays.
Hollister Councilman Karson Klauer acknowledged former School Superintendent John Perales for his pursuit of closing the road, as well as county Supervisors Anthony Botelho and Mark Medina, who attended the ceremony.
The lawyers were also a big part of the process, Klauer said, because it was a very “convoluted” agreement that had to be negotiated.
“I’d like to thank everybody who was involved in those negotiations because there were some days we would leave a meeting and it didn’t seem like this even had a chance of happening,” Klauer said. “But time after time people came back, came up with new ideas and worked through it.”
Supervisor Robert Rivas, currently a candidate for the 30th State Assembly District, also reminisced on his time as a Baler in 1998.
“We heard rumors. Maybe we are getting an all-weather track someday at our school,” Rivas said. “Maybe one day we’re going to get a campus on the other end of the property that was owned by the high school. But then also that someday Nash Road will be closed. And although it’s 20 years later, I’m proud to have been part of that process.”
Rivas added that the closing of the road serves two purposes. The first is to keep students and high school staff safe; the second is that it shows collaboration between local government, public safety agencies and community groups.
Another Baler alum who remembered closing Nash Road as just a conversation at city meetings during his senior year was San Benito High School Principal Adrian Ramirez.
“It didn’t even hit me that this was going to happen, that we were going to close it, until I came out here today,” Ramirez said.
The school’s supervisor of security, Mercedes Berglund, ended the ceremony by saying it was dream come true to be standing next to the gates that will close Nash Road for the safety of the students.
“My heart goes out to everybody and let’s close it,” Berglund said.
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