My Turn: The ‘old’ news and ‘good’ news on the McIver Hill campus | SierraSun.com

My Turn: The ‘old’ news and ‘good’ news on the McIver Hill campus

Dave Ferrari

In November 2004, over 75 percent of local voters approved Measure H, a $35 million bond measure for design and construction of a permanent campus atop McIver Hill, located off of Highway 89 at Interstate 80 in Truckee.

The plan included a 40-acre site within a 73-acre easement granted to the Truckee Donner Land Trust during the purchase of the property.

On Oct. 11, the Sierra Sun printed a front-page article entitled “Rocky Start” about our new campus, currently under construction.

For the record, and I see it as my job to keep the record straight about Sierra College. Here is a summary of the old and the new news.

Yes, we did cut the size of the new building by 7,000 sq. ft but it we did so 18 months ago prior to the start of construction for these reasons:

– Since the passage of the bond in 2004, construction costs, across the country, are up by nearly 40 percent.

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– The pre-bond estimates for site costs were low. We knew the site preparation was extensive but with complete analysis especially of road excavation and the provider’s utility requirements, the costs proved to be higher than predicted.

– It was also determined that it would be beneficial to run the main water line 7,000 feet from the east end of the site to highway 89, which will eliminate the water tower on Mclver Hill and improve the water distribution in Truckee. This was done in cooperation with Truckee Donner PUD.

– The project also started a building season later than estimated in our pre-bond research. This was due to the environmental impact review taking longer than predicted to be certified. This led to an increase in construction costs.

– These complete costs could not have been known pre-bond.

– Through a series of public meetings and leadership from our local Citizen’s Oversight Committee and Campus staff, agreement was made to stay within budget by reducing the number classrooms and administrative space without downsizing common areas, teacher prep and storage space thus minimizing impacts to the learning environment.

– The Sierra College Truckee Campus project is on schedule and taxpayers are paying nearly 33 percent less than what we estimated in our bond campaign.

– Up to 1,000 of our local students will have the opportunity to attend community college next school year.

I would like to commend the Sierra College project team, including local faculty and Rudolph and Sletten, our main contractors, as well as our Citizen’s Oversight Committee for extensively analyzing our project costs prior to the start of construction, making the difficult changes, and thus preventing more painful and expensive budget cuts during the building process.

In conclusion, I would like to say that I believe that everyone is better off when learning is a community priority and when we nourish high aspirations through expanded educational services. Thank you all for your continued support of our new Sierra College campus.