An 80-acre piece of land referred to as Fairview Corners on Fairview Road near the Ridgemark Golf Club and Resort in Hollister has sat vacant for more than 10 years since being purchased by Gavilan College.
While the goal of building a San Benito County campus on that parcel remains a high priority for the Gavilan Joint Community College District Board of Trustees, the fate of the site depends on more money, possibly from a new bond measure being discussed for the Nov.6 ballot. The parcel was bought with $8 million from a 2004 bond referendum.
“It’s fair to say that for every board member, building out that campus is a high priority for us in the future, the near future,” said Gavilan Board President Jonathan Brusco. “But we haven’t determined whether or not we will go through with the bond yet. We haven’t determined the specific dollar amount.”
A community survey, conducted via phone and email between Aug. 31 and Sept. 14, 2017, built around the possibility of floating a $248 million bond measure on the Nov. 6, 2018 ballot to fund facility upgrades at the main Gilroy campus and a new satellite campus in San Benito County produced favorable results. Of the 610 likely voters, 65 percent were in favor of the ballot measure and 27 percent were against it.
Brusco said board members will discuss the college’s next move in the pursuit of a bond measure next week with the agency hired to investigate Gavilan’s proposal. The special board meeting is scheduled for 6pm May 21 in the Student Center Lounge, Gilroy campus. If it is recommended to move forward, the board is expected to vote on the bond measure in July.
“We’re hoping that that bond measure is successful and it helps us develop a number of projects throughout our district,” said Brusco, noting that the board has comprised an education program and facilities master plan. “I don’t know the order of the items we are going to work on if the bond is successful but (a new San Benito campus) is definitely a high priority.”
A potential measure would cost local property owners no more than $25 per $100,000 of assessed (not market) value, or about $113 per year for as long as bonds are outstanding, according to Gavilan staff.
Identifying any Career Technical Education programs to house at a possible San Benito extension site is something that must be determined as well, according to Brusco. Gavilan’s Coyote Valley Center in south San Jose—the land purchased simultaneously with the Fairview site in Hollister—is home to the South Bay Regional Public Safety Training Consortium. It offers courses for those students interested in career paths that include correctional officer, law enforcement, dispatcher and probation officer. Gavilan also offers an aviation mechanics program on site at San Martin Airport.
Currently, Gavilan students attend a variety of classes at the Briggs Building in downtown Hollister, which offers limited student services and a variety of courses since 1997. This semester, there are 61 classes being offered at Briggs, according to Gavilan staff.
In San Benito County, there are 1,860 students from Hollister, 94 from San Juan Bautista and nine from Tres Pinos who attend Gavilan, which had 7,221 total enrolled students in Fall 2017.
Brusco has been on the board for six years and said he would “love to see that happen” in Hollister, but at the same time “there’s a lot of items that are a high priority” for Gavilan. Some of the other high priority items include a new library, theater and expanded veterans programs for the main Gilroy campus, Brusco shared.
Brusco reiterated that the San Benito property is a high priority but added. “We haven’t even cleared all the environmental hurdles.
” Gavilan was required to buy additional land to provide a new habitat for the California Tiger Salamander, a federally endangered species found at Fairview Corners.