A groundbreaking celebration for two new flagship buildings at Hartnell College will be held Tuesday, May 18.
The public is invited to attend the event, which is scheduled from 2-5 p.m. close to Parking Lot 2, near Merrill Hall (off of Central Avenue).
The two new buildings are a $21.6 million, two-story Learning Resource Center (library) and a three-level, $17.2 million parking structure. Together the library and the parking structure, to be located on what are now Parking Lots 1 and 2, will create a "front door" - or gateway - to the campus with both a walking path and a driveway.
The groundbreaking ceremony will include jazz bands, mariachi groups, campus tours, refreshments and historical vignettes by Western Stage actors portraying characters from Hartnell's 84 years of educational excellence. "We want to invite the entire community to celebrate this momentous celebration," said Hartnell President Edward J. Valeau. "This is a very historic time for Hartnell College. We have not constructed a new building on campus for many years." Several of the college's classrooms, laboratories and buildings were constructed nearly 40 years ago, he said.
The groundbreaking for the two buildings marks the beginning of a 15-year campus improvement plan financed by state funds and the passage of Measure H, a $131 million bond measure that was approved by 65 percent of Salinas Valley voters in November 2002. In addition to the construction of the library and the parking structure, Hartnell will build additional classrooms, renovate existing buildings, upgrade technology systems, update safety equipment, and bring the college into the 21st century.
"The campus you see today," said Valeau, "will be a very different campus tomorrow. When construction and improvements are completed, Hartnell will be a modern, spacious, technologically improved campus, and a warmer and more inviting place for community members to pursue their educational goals." As the Hartnell campus has aged, enrollment has increased and classrooms are overcrowded. The current buildings were meant to handle about 6,500 students, but 10,000 enroll every semester, and that figure is expected to climb to 12,000 to 16,000 in 10 years.
The new 68,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art library will be about three times as big as the present library. It will have about 230 computers for student use and 24 rooms for group study in addition to ultra-quiet study spaces. There also will be a room for use by community groups, equipped with kitchen facilities and the latest in presentation technologies.
The parking structure will accommodate 1,117 vehicles and will provide the campus with 500 more parking spaces that presently available. But progress has a price. "As we begin work to update Hartnell's physical plant," Valeau said, "there will be noise and dust. But we will make every effort to limit the inconvenience to our neighbors, students, faculty and staff." For more information on the groundbreaking, call (831) 755-6810.