Leatherback site is back on table for Gavilan trustees

The site of the old Leatherback Industries property is again

Gavilan College trustees decided in closed session Wednesday to
once again study the possibility of using the old Leatherback
Industries site near downtown Hollister for temporary classroom
space, according to the school’s spokeswoman.
Gavilan College trustees decided in closed session Wednesday to once again study the possibility of using the old Leatherback Industries site near downtown Hollister for temporary classroom space, according to the school’s spokeswoman.

Gavilan College trustees agreed to direct “staff to conduct additional study of the ‘Leatherback’ site for use as a potential Education Center for Gavilan,” according to an e-mail from spokeswoman Jan Bernstein-Chargin. This past spring, trustees had declined on the idea to consider the area seriously after a team of developers, the Hollister Redevelopment Agency – which owns the property – and the local YMCA had proposed a partnership there.

Gavilan College is looking for classroom expansion in light of capacity running out at the Briggs Building downtown. The college still has plans, though possibly decades from now, to build a permanent campus at the Fairview Corners site off Airline Highway.

The temporary site – other locations downtown and outside that area have been considered – would serve as a home to the local college until the county can gain “educational center” status with 500 or more full-time equivalent students here.

After Gavilan had declined on the idea, there was some criticism locally about the decision. And Gavilan officials followed up by hosting a forum on the topic last month at the Veterans Memorial Building, while school President Steve Kinsella talked publicly at last month’s Lunch with Leaders event as well.

Bernstein-Chargin noted how there was not an official vote on the matter Wednesday. She said Gavilan faculty members will be going out to the site to examine it and make recommendations on the prospect from “an educational standpoint.” College leaders then would look at financial options before a possible decision by the Division of State Architects, she said.

“It’s back on the table,” she said. “They’re going to be taking a look at it to see if it would meet the criteria for an educational center.”

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