Article - Office of College Advancement

Ohlone seeks development proposals for frontage land

Board approves request for plans to add 1,000 parking spaces to Fremont campus

By Todd R. Brown, Staff writer.

Friday, August 10, 2007—Reprinted from Inside Bay Area.

Fremont—Ohlone College is seeking proposals to develop the frontage property along Mission Boulevard at its Fremont campus.

Income from the development, on about 19 acres, would fund "capital improvements" at the college, although board members debated whether that meant upkeep or could include construction.

In the end, Trustee Bob Brunton abstained from voting during the board meeting Wednesday night because he was concerned about several issues, including whether to require housing as part of the plans.

Trustee Trisha Tahmasbi supported on-campus housing but agreed with the board to soften language in the request in order to give developers the latitude to design retail-only projects.

Trustee John Weed excused himself from voting because he owns commercial property nearby.

The board also approved a request for proposals to add 1,000 parking spaces to the campus, including a structure near the Smith Center, to replace parking lots that will be gobbled up by the development.

College Vice President Ron Travenick said enrollment at Ohlone is up 8 percent to 9 percent for the fall compared with last year. Yet President Doug Treadway said growth among community colleges across the state is levelingoff or declining.

"Communities have been built out, and they're aging," he said. "We very well may be a static district … in five years."

Still, he said there is a "buzz" about Ohlone of late, with roughly 30 percent of students coming from outside the college district. That corresponds to a trend in students hopping from school to school in pursuit of credits to transfer to a four-year school, he said.

"There were times when this wasn't the place you wanted to be as a high school student" heading into higher education, Treadway said. "Right now, it is."

Yet he cautioned that Ohlone's vitality is an intangible that can't be counted on, and stressed the need for new income sources, including the frontage plan.

Applause broke out in the meeting room after the vote, which capped years of discussion. Board President Nick Nardolillo, a veteran of the debate, hooted in victory afterward.

Development proposals are due Dec. 12.

Staff writer Todd R. Brown covers Newark, Ohlone College and ethnic communities. Reach him at (510) 353-7004 or tbrown@angnewspapers.com.

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