College will begin first phase of Measure E projects
Morgan Hill – Gavilan College’s circa-1970s campus will soon receive a much-needed facelift.

This summer, the community college will begin infrastructure upgrades, the first phase in a long list of Measure E projects, the $108-million bond narrowly approved by voters in March of 2004.

The initial construction won’t be as visible to the eye as the projects down the road, but it will definitely be appreciated. Improvements will include electrical upgrades, new heating and air conditioning units, lighting and safety.

Some locals have erroneously referred to Measure E as a “state of the art” project, when “it’s pretty much a bare bones facility upgrade,” Gavilan College President Steve Kinsella said.

And he’s excited that Gavilan will be catching up.

“Really the ability to get the campus up to an acceptable level for teaching and learning,” he said. “Because people really are shocked when they learn that we don’t have AC in every building.

The lighting in both the parking lot and throughout the campus needs to be remedied quickly. At night, the heavily wooded campus is shrouded in darkness.

“It’s a serious problem,” Kinsella said. “It’s just way too dark and we want to take care of that.”

And, of course air conditioning is a priority, since some of the buildings on campus don’t have it. The science complex, admissions and administration buildings don’t have any air conditioning.

Kinsella, who has served as president for three years, knows from firsthand experience how uncomfortable it is to sit in a sweltering office during one of Gilroy’s sizzling hot summers.

“It’s unbearable,” he said.

The college is still waiting for state approval on the plans for the infrastructure projects but once Gavilan gets the go-ahead, the project will go out for bid. The next big project will involve renovations of the science complex, which has a bevy of outdated labs and lecture halls.

Because the campus was built more than 35 years ago, at a time when big lecture halls were the trend, many of Gavilan’s classrooms are equipped with the large open spaces, inefficient for today’s classes which are smaller and more participatory, Kinsella said.

During the next eight years, departments and buildings throughout the campus will reap the benefits of the bond measure. From the cosmetology complex to the student center, everyone at Gavilan will receive a little piece of the Measure E puzzle.

Also, any changes necessary to bring the college in line with the American Disability Act, such as handicapped ramps or bathrooms, will be made. Although the long list of modernizations and the 2014 finish date may appear a bit daunting and unrealistic, the head architect of the project says not to worry.

“Of course nobody has a total crystal ball,” BFGC Principal Architect David Cartnal said. “All we can do is budget. When the hurricanes hit Florida all of a sudden the price of plywood spiked.”

There have been periodic shortages of concrete and steel, Cartnal added.

“You just never know, but what we have consciously done is put in a program contingency,” he said.

What that means is the San Jose-based architects have worked six years worth of inflation into the schedule, to ensure that the projects at the bottom of the list won’t be left out in cold. Cartnal said that was one of the ground rules laid out when they began planning the Gavilan project.

Because some projects are at the bottom of the list, Cartnal wants to make sure the college delivers on its promise to the voters to complete every single one.

“We had to put in a mechanism that would protect the money and inflate it so the purchasing power of the dollar was equalized,” he said.

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