Article - Office of College Advancement

Decision on Ohlone land lease delayed

By West Bowers.

Thursday, July 12, 2007—Reprinted from Fremont Bulletin.

Ohlone Community College's Board of Trustees Tuesday decided to wait until its Aug. 8 meeting to vote on a resolution that will allow the college to lease its more than 19 acres of undeveloped property along Mission Boulevard.

After a lengthy discussion on several issues as to how the land should be developed, Trustee Bill McMillin suggested the board wait until its next meeting to vote.

McMillin, after a motion was made to vote by Trustee Richard Watters, said he thought there was a consensus to wait for Trustee Bob Brunton to join the vote.

Brunton was absent from Tuesday's meeting, out of town on business.

However, Watters did not recant his motion for a vote, stating that when the meeting was rescheduled, Brunton said he could not attend the July 9 meeting, originally rescheduled from July 11.

According to Watters, Brunton said that July 10 would work better for him.

Jim Eller, the board's attorney, said at a June 13 meeting that five "yes" votes from the trustees are required to pass the lease resolution.

Trustee John Weed recused himself from the resolution, as he owns property across the street from the property. That means five of the six remaining trustees must vote in favor of the resolution, and with Brunton absent Tuesday, the possibility of passing the item was nixed.

The 19.1 acres of surplus property in question front Mission Boulevard between the school's two entryways.

Suggested uses for the property could either be retail or residential.

On Tuesday, college officials said potential income generated from a lease would be used for capital improvement projects.

However, the biggest issue for the board was what kind of development should be built.

McMillin maintained that he wanted to see retail front Mission Boulevard, and perhaps residential behind it.

Attorney Eller said the development community, however, wants latitude.

"The market place is going to tell you how much residential or retail you can have out there," he said. "I don't know if the entire site can be developed for retail. We can put it out there and see if anyone responds, but none of the development community we've spoken to has suggested an entire retail project."

Trustee Trisha Tahmasbi said she did not like designating certain areas of the property for certain uses.

"I think it limits us if we say only this for this and that for that,'" she said. "Maybe we're doing a disservice if we put those limitations on the property this early."

But McMillin explained in the past the board rejected development proposals for the property because there was too much residential planned.

"In reviewing the six plans we saw from former developers of the site, we threw out a couple of them because they had residential all along Mission, and they were all five or six stories high," he said.

In the new lease agreement, whatever is developed along Mission Boulevard will be two stories or less.

Upon development, the school would lose parking lots. However, the lease would require the developer to build new parking lots, where the existing baseball field stands today.

In turn, the baseball field will be either relocated to below the school's tennis courts, or a new field would be built at the school's Newark campus that is rapidly progressing.

If the field were built below the tennis courts, Ohlone President Douglas Treadway said the school would pay for it using income generated from the leased property.

If the field were to be built in Newark, Treadway said the semi-pro Western Baseball League has shown interest in financing a stadium, rather than just a field.

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