Gavilan set to begin Measure E improvements

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GILROY
– In the near future, Gavilan College will replace its
antiquated boiler system, purchased from the military after World
War I, with an energy-efficient heating system.
GILROY – In the near future, Gavilan College will replace its antiquated boiler system, purchased from the military after World War I, with an energy-efficient heating system. That is just one of many projects the college will embark on by using money from Measure E, approved by the voters in March.

A group of citizens has been named to monitor Gavilan College as it spends the voter-approved $108 million on facilities improvements.

Gavilan’s Board of Trustees appointed nine people to the Citizens Oversight Committee that will oversee all spending related to the measure, approved by Gilroy, Morgan Hill and San Benito County voters in March.

The ballot measure’s first payoff will come Tuesday, when underwriter UBS Paine Webber closes the sale of $30 million in bonds.

“It’s a good way to get started,” Gavilan President Steve Kinsella said.

The members represent the community at large, including Gavilan students, business and senior citizens’ organizations and the college foundation. A representative from a taxpayers association still is needed.

Russ Danielson, a business representative, currently also serves on the Coyote Valley Specific Plan Task Force.

The group will ensure Gavilan spends the $108 million as promised – on facilities repairs and upgrades, and campus expansion.

Gavilan struggled to fill the minimum seven committee slots required by state law. The college began seeking applications even before Measure E was approved and received nine before the list went to the board of trustees on June 8.

“We didn’t have such an overwhelming number,” Kinsella said. “I didn’t want to recommend that the board screen anybody out.”

The committee’s first meeting is scheduled for June 28. Members will decide when and how often to meet and determine how the group will be structured. They are required to meet at least annually, Kinsella said.

“There isn’t a lot of activity at the moment, but we want them to get their schedule set up,” Kinsella said.

The first bond-related projects could be under way by summer’s end. The college is seeking bids to contract with a construction management firm and architect for the duration of the bond projects. They should be hired within the next two months, Kinsella said.

“It is envisioned that we would have this firm set out the master plan and schedule for the renovation work on the main campus, and it would be good to have one firm handle that from start to finish because we will have better accountability,” Kinsella said.

Once the firms are under contract, Kinsella estimated it would be another couple of months before they develop a construction timeline.

“Really, the first focus that we’re going to ask … is the development of the infrastructure that needs to be changed out,” Kinsella said. “The power system, essentially, is the key problem because that’s going to be the basis for supporting all the other upgrades.”

Some of the more urgent projects in addition to replacing the heating system include:

• Installing and repairing fire safety equipment including alarms, smoke detectors, sprinklers and fire safety doors.

• Improving disabled access in all buildings and classrooms to meet state standards.

• Improving the outdated library to provide students and residents with a high-tech learning resource center.

• Providing air conditioning and heating for all campus buildings.

“We’re eager to get started, it’s hot here,” Kinsella said.

Before the bond projects begin, the oversight committee will be briefed by Gavilan’s lawyer on its responsibilities as laid out by Proposition 39, he said. The state law allows bond measures to pass with 55 percent voter approval, rather than two-thirds, and requires an oversight committee be established.

Measure E passed with 56 percent of the vote.

Some oversight committee- and bond-related information is being added to Gavilan’s Web site, including a list of the representatives’ names. When the committee makes its annual reports to the board, they will be posted online.

Each committee member will serve a two-year term and may serve a total of two terms.

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