Article - Office of College Advancement
State officials amazed by Ohlone campus
By Todd R. Brown, Staff Writer.
Thursday, May 17, 2007—Reprinted from Inside Bay Area.
NEWARK—A couple of miles from the Don Edwards wildlife refuge, Ohlone College's ultra-green health and technology center is taking shape.
On Wednesday, a crew of dignitaries toured the campus' construction site on Cherry Street, among them Mark Drummond, chancellor of California Community Colleges.
"This is absolutely mind-boggling," Drummond said, wearing a white hard hat emblazoned with Ohlone's logo.
The sustainability-themed campus on about 80 acres will be a model of how to integrate solar panels, recycled carpet fibers and other green innovations into development.
A golf course is planned in the campus's backyard, where acres of open space lay west of the railroad—and someday possibly housing as well.
That raises the question: How to reconcile an environmental education center with the very unsustainable eradication of green space next door?
"The wetlands will be preserved where they exist," Mayor David Smith said during the tour. "The golf course is going to be designed with environmental principles in mind."
Leta Stagnaro, who will be dean of the Center for Health Sciences and Technology, pointed out a tiny pond west ofthe complex that she said would be left untouched and used as part of the college's life sciences program.
"You can see there's wildlife out there already," she said of some ducks flocking together.
While development spells property tax revenue for the city, some citizens would like to see Newark's open space preserved regardless.
Margaret Lewis of Newark, a member of the Citizens Committee to Complete the Refuge, said the area could join the 30,000-acre Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge as seasonal wetlands.
"There used to be two duck clubs on the site," she said. "The new owners immediately started to drain it and plow the soil to get rid of wetland vegetation in the mid-1980s. This was the type of habitat being lost very quickly around the Bay."
She suggested a wetlands project under the aegis that the college would provide an ideal laboratory experience for environmental students.
"This could be a jewel in the crown for Ohlone college," Lewis said, "to restore it and return it to its past glory."
She noted that the combined University of Washington Bothell and Cascadia Community College did just that, creating 58 acres of wetlands.
Drummond, who lived in Union City's Alvarado district in the late '60s to early '70s and roamed the area by horse and motorcycle, noted the historically agricultural bent of the Tri-City area.
"Right across from my house was a big cauliflower field," he said. "I assume it's still there."
Maybe not—SummerHill Homes built housing subdivisions on former farmland in the area.
Staff writer Todd R. Brown covers Newark, Ohlone College and ethnic communities. Reach him at (510) 353-7004 or firstname.lastname@example.org.