Three buildings on the College of the Redwoods main campus are going to be torn down, largely due to the fact that they sit on fault lines.
During a meeting Wednesday the CR Board of Trustees voted to move forward with the demolition of the former life sciences building, the former physical sciences building and the old library.
The college has been trying to decide what to do with the vacant buildings for some time now, and CR President Keith Snow-Flamer enlisted the help of local company Greenway Partners to research the buildings, perform community outreach and outline the board’s options.
Project Manager Jim Penny and Associate Project Manager Aristea Saulsbury presented their findings during the board meeting. Though they initially looked at four vacant buildings, they limited the research to the two science buildings.
“We were approached to talk about the buildings on campus that are unique and well appreciated. But they are also situated on fault lines,” Saulsbury began the presentation. “The legislation has evolved since the buildings have existed. In that time, the time and deterioration have continued to make it difficult for the campus to make a decision moving forward.”
The buildings, which were erected in 1968, sit on the Little Salmon Fault, making them a potential safety hazard if there were ever a major earthquake.
Sauslbury explained that the Alquist-Priolo Act — which was passed into law in 1972 — requires buildings must be set back at least 50 feet from any fault lines.
Penny then presented the board with two options: the college could either demolish the buildings (estimated to cost roughly $1,000,000) or renovate them and bring them up to code (estimated to cost upwards of $5.5 million). Penny explained that in addition to the buildings’ seismic issues, they have other problems due to deterioration, asbestos and mold.
Demolishing the buildings would also free up the land for other potential uses, such as use for gardens and composting for CR’s agricultural program or the construction of a nature trail. These were some of the suggestions that had come out of meetings Greenway held with community members and CR staff, Penny said.
The board decided that, especially given the significant cost difference, demolition was the best option. President Snow-Flamer explained that the cost of demolition would be covered by the funds from the sale of the Garberville Instructional Site. CR sold the site to the Southern Humboldt Community Healthcare District for $1.1 million in 2016 and has still held on to the funds.
Board member Richard Dorn questioned the use of these funds for demolition, which he understood was set aside for dormitory improvements.
“That was the idea about a year ago,” Snow-Flamer responded. “But since then circumstances have changed.”
Dorn also mentioned that Measure Q funds were used to purchase the Garberville site and questioned the appropriateness of using these funds for a demolition project. But Snow-Flamer said that this project is completely in line with how the school is legally allowed to use Measure Q funds.
In a separate vote, the board also approved the demolition of the old library on campus. The board has been discussing what to do with the abandoned building for years.
There was no discussion of how the library demolition would be funded during the meeting. But Board of Trustees President Bruce Emad told the Outpost that this would also come from Measure Q funds the college has set aside.
Emad was happy with the board’s decision. Although, he understands that some staff and community members have attachments to the buildings and hate to see them go.
“Every board member that voted for this decision did it with reservations,” Emad told the Outpost. “We love those buildings. But our dollars need to go in to educating students not maintaining buildings that aren’t being used.”
The Outpost was unable to reach President Snow-Flamer for comment. But you can read his summary of the meeting on the CR President/ Superintendent’s Blog.
You can view the full meeting video here.