Council backs $95 million budget, bond project list

By Lorenzo Morotti, Associate Editor

As the $52 million Campus Center and Classroom Project nears completion in August, the College Council unanimously approved a $95 million tentative construction plan on Feb. 11 that aims to modernize aged campus facilities within the next six or seven years.

“The best we can tell at this point is (the completion of these projects within) about six years, but we still need to refine the plan more,” district Facilities Planner Ray Pyle said about a project that would construct a Science and Allied Health Building, a new Police Services Center and renovate the Gym Annex, Gymnasium and both the Women’s and Men’s Locker Rooms.

Pyle said the plan is in part to provide a more conducive learning experience for future students along with ensuring their safety due to the Hayward Fault bisecting the campus.

Pyle said the plan is based on Contra Costa College’s 2007 Master Plan. He said the $84 million allocated to CCC out of the $450 million districtwide Bond Measure E will be supplemented with left over funds from Measure A (2006).

Chancellor Helen Benjamin said that the district allocated $23 million more from its own budget because of “a great deal of need.”

“When we made the decision because of a difference in needs between the colleges,” Dr. Benjamin said, “a lot was associated with the fact an (earthquake) fault runs through campus.”

The Seismic Rubric indicates any building at a public institution that is rated at a Seismic Risk level IV is structurally “questionable,” while a V or higher is deemed “unacceptable”.

On that scale the Liberal Arts Building (1965) is at level III, the Custodial, Maintenance and Police Services Buildings are at levels IV, V and IV. The Physical Sciences Building (1955) is at V, the Health Science Building (1972) is at III and the Biology Building (1960) is at V according to the college’s Seismic Evaluation and Retrofit Studies report prepared for the district by Thornton Tomasetti Building Solutions in November 2011.

Pyle said while the project has these buildings slated to be demolished, the Gym Annex (1967 at level IV), the Gymnasium (1956 at level IV) and the Men’s and Women’s Locker Rooms (1956 and 1962 at level III) will be renovated without tearing the existing structures down.

“It is a series of projects,” Pyle said. “This first set that are going to get going with Measure E funds will be the athletic complex renovation at the same time we create new spaces in the Applied Arts Buildings after culinary, (ASU), administration, (Middle College High School), (Business Office) move into the new (Campus Center) building.”

He said once five classrooms are constructed inside the AA Building ($5.9 million from Measure E and A) the nursing and emergency medical technician programs will move into those spaces.

Because the project is still in its preliminary phase, there have yet to be discussions about any specific floor plans, Pyle said.

Buildings and Grounds Manager Bruce King said his department and the custodial department will also be moving into the AA Building when the R Building is demolished to extend parking Lot 9 and relocate Police Services near the Tennis Courts.

Pyle said once the moves are made, the demolition of the Liberal Arts and Health Sciences buildings will start to make way for a new $56 million Science and Allied Health Building.

According to the Powerpoint presentation used at College Council, the new science building will house general classrooms, a new planetarium, biology, chemistry, engineering and EMT/medical assisting labs and a Center for Science Excellence study space, along with a computer lab.

At the same meeting, Pyle said that the Science and Allied Health Building alone would add about 5,300 of additional square feet to campus building space.

The five areas on campus that are to be renovated or rebuilt total about 7,500 additional square feet according to the Powerpoint presentation.

Pyle said that he will be speaking with faculty and department chairpersons to suggest potentially keeping the nursing department in the AA Building to save costs.

He said the site where the Biology, Physical and Health Sciences buildings once stood will be used for future projects that have yet to be determined.

Interim College President Mojdeh Mehdizadeh said she, Pyle, designers and Director of Business Services Mariles Magalong are meeting with department chairpersons and faculty from science departments to discuss any concerns with the tentative budget and plan.


Approved, but not finalized

Mehdizadeh said that the preliminary plan was approved at College Council with minor modifications.

She said weekly meetings are being held with Athletic Director John Wade and Academic Senate President Beth Goehring to ensure that the location of the new Police Services Center and the renovations are not obstructive.

In regard to the $29.5 million Gym Annex, Gymnasium and Women’s and Men’s Locker Room renovations being planned to happen to all buildings at once, Wade and Goehring said they are concerned construction would interfere with team practices, classes and parking during games or events.

“The need for our department’s swing space is gigantic,” Goehring said. “(Pyle) said if we don’t do all the work to the (Athletic Complex) it will cost more but it would be extremely disruptive to our classes and sports programs. It might be better to phase the project out into parts.”

Wade said because the proposed site of the Police Services Center, the Handball Courts, is used by the football team and Buildings and Grounds to store equipment, a compromise should be made before moving forward.

Mehdizadeh said meetings to discuss alternative locations to the new Police Services Center are on a weekly basis but a decision needs to be made as soon as possible.

Pyle said the district hired Klienfelder Inc., an engineering solutions firm, for an estimated $40,000 to begin trenching looking for seismic activity by the end of March or early April.

Magalong and Pyle said the new $2 million Police Services Center, allocated from the district’s operations budget, is the only building that will require a seismic study because it is the only site located in a “not cleared zone.”

Mehdizadeh said the campus is divided into three zones, habitable (green), not cleared (yellow) and exclusion zones (red).

“Yellow zones can be turned into green zones through extensive drilling (and seismic study), but you cannot change the status of a red zone,” she said. 

Pyle said the results of the trenching that will take place near the Tennis Courts on the west side of campus would determine if the college can build the new Police Services Center at that location or not.