Owners of Hart Property confirm contact from college officials

Gavilan Community College officials are looking into purchasing
property adjacent to North Street, near the I.O.O.F. Cemetery, as a
possible site for a satellite campus, according to Scott Fuller,
who controls the property with the Brigantino family of
Hollister.
By Brett Rowland Staff Writer

Hollister – Gavilan Community College officials are looking into purchasing property adjacent to North Street, near the I.O.O.F. Cemetery, as a possible site for a satellite campus, according to Scott Fuller, who controls the property with the Brigantino family of Hollister.

Although the college has not made an official offer, Fuller said the two parties have discussed a price and are in the process of further discussions. Fuller said he was contacted about the property by the college.

“We think it would be a great location because it’s close to downtown, close to the railroad and offers a commanding presence,” Fuller said. “And as far as I know it’s the only site they’re considering proximate to downtown Hollister.”

The property is owned by the Hart Family, but Fuller and the Brigantino Family of the San Benito Realty Company own an option to purchase the property. Dave Brigantino could not be reached for comment prior to press time.

Gavilan College President Steve Kinsella declined to confirm or deny that the 80 acres of hillside land was being considered by the college.

But Tony Ruiz, who taught at Gavilan for nearly 30 years, said he had personally taken Kinsella and several board members on tours of the property. Ruiz hopes Gavilan will purchase the property, which he believes will have a positive impact on the Hollister community.

Kinsella said the college was looking at two sites in Hollister, but declined to give specific details. The college may also look at more sites in the future, he said. The college has $12.7 million to spend on a satellite campus property, but Kinsella said the money could go further.

“Money will be a limiting factor – there may be enough to get a building structure, but we’re not sure yet,” he said.

A final decision on any proposed property would be made by Gavilan’s Board of Trustees. The board will consider access to transportation and infrastructure as well as faultline issues, acreage and price before making a decision, Kinsella said.

Board member Kent Child believes proximity to Hollister and its infrastructure will be an important consideration. The closer to downtown Hollister, the better, he said.

“The closer to downtown the more expensive the land will be, but even if we find cheap land in the boonies, fewer students will come,” Child said.

For Child, the key factors in the site selection process will include finding a large enough space to allow for growth and an aesthetically pleasing environment. Child also said he would not want to build on prime agricultural land.

Sheila Stevens, President of the Hollister Downtown Association, hopes a Gavilan campus will bring more money and jobs into the city.

“We want to make (downtown) the hub of the community, and if there is going to be more teachers and students, it certainly can’t be bad for us,” she said. “We feel this would be a good idea.”

In addition to the Hollister Downtown Association, San Benito County’s educational community has been excited about the prospect of a Hollister campus for several months, County Superintendent of School’s Tim Foley said Monday.

“I think the most important part is its accessibility to the students of San Benito County,” Foley said.

San Benito High School Superintendent Jean Burns Slater agreed.

“We’ve always been interested in having students take college classes in a close campus,” she said. “It is so difficult for our students to get to Gavilan (now).”

Slater believes the trip to Gilroy and the subsequent U-turn required to get the Gavilan’s main campus is dangerous for young students.

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