Thirty concerned Salinas residents - representing homeowners, parents and students - met Wednesday (June 11) with Hartnell College administrators to continue the dialogue regarding the college's Measure H construction plans.
Measure H - a $131 million proposition passed by voters in November - will finance additional classrooms, a new library, renovate buildings, upgrade technology systems, update safety equipment, and bring the college into the 21st century.
The major concern expressed by the group involves plans to increase the parking capacity of the college by constructing a new parking structure that will require a temporary shift of about 500 vehicles from the area of the new facility to elsewhere on the 50-acre campus.
According to Michael Maas, whose company is implementing the Measure H construction, Hartnell has explored all of the options and has proposed the only plan that is feasible. "Under California guidelines," said Maas, "a community college campus should consist of a minimum of 100 acres. Hartnell, at half that size, makes the decision much more difficult."
He continued, "We cannot expect our neighbors to absorb hundreds of additional parked cars on their streets, so we have proposed a temporary solution by using some of the college's tennis courts and playing fields for parking."
Several community members suggested that another option is the use of shuttle buses to move students and staff between the campus and the parking lots beyond the campus. Hartnell President Edward Valeau said, "We have met with the Monterey-Salinas Transit to explore that alternative, but it is not likely to solve the problem in the short term."
Many students spoke about the need to have their cars available in case of an emergency with children and to make tight connections with jobs. Valeau welcomed suggestions that the college provide incentives to those people who could utilize public transportation, car-pools, and alternative modes of transportation. "We will seriously consider every idea," he said.
Maas described the entire plan for construction, which he indicated must begin on a timely basis if Hartnell is to retain the funding that has been allocated by the state. Following Maas's presentation, many community members expressed their confidence that the college was following "a well-planned and logical sequence."
Valeau thanked the group for "their creative and thoughtful suggestions as well as their willingness to listen." The president said, "We will find a compromise solution. But every compromise means that someone has to give up something for the good of the whole. Our central guiding focus is to ensure that Hartnell College remains accessible and effective in providing higher education, job training and skill development for our students now and in the future."