Article - Office of College Advancement

Ohlone puts $349 million bond measure on November ballot

By Matthew Artz, Oakland Tribune.

Thursday, July 15, 2010—Reprinted from Inside Bay Area.

Fremont—Ohlone College is asking voters in Fremont, Newark and part of Union City to support a $349 million bond to refurbish its 40-year-old main campus.

The college's Board of Trustees unanimously voted this week to put the facilities bond on the November ballot after receiving survey results finding that just over two-thirds of district voters would support the measure.

This will be Ohlone's second bond measure in eight years. The college has already spent a 2002 voter-approved $140 million bond that paid for Ohlone's Newark campus and the new Student Services Building in Fremont.

The proposed $349 million bond is for improvements to Ohlone's Fremont campus, which college officials say has many deteriorating buildings and lacks adequate science, library and media facilities.

The bond would pay for projects outlined in Ohlone's recently approved 15-year Fremont Campus Master Plan. Much of the work would involve repairing aging plumbing, improving access for disabled students, making seismic retrofits, and outfitting classrooms and science labs with up-to-date technology and better Internet access.

"There's a demonstrated need for what we're asking to do," Trustee Garrett Yee said.

The master plan also envisions an ambitious redesign of the hillside campus that would include a new science building, campus plaza and arts complex, as well as more parking spaces closer to the main academic buildings.

The November bond initiative needs 55 percent of the vote to pass. A survey conducted last month found that 67 percent of district voters would support the bond — up from 58 percent a year ago.

Since then, College President Gari Browning has made the case for a bond measure before several community groups, and the college has spent public funds on two mailers to district residents highlighting facility issues at the Fremont campus.

The most recent mailer, which showed multiple photos of damaged buildings, cost Ohlone about $20,000 to send out to about 55,000 homes.

Ohlone officials said they expect it would take about 30 years to repay the bond. For homeowners, the bond would increase property taxes by about $19.95 for every $100,000 of assessed value on their homes. That means the owner of a $400,000 home would pay nearly an additional $80 a year in property taxes while the bond is being repaid.

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