Plans proceed

Brentwood to make designs

Although the completion of the new Los Medanos College Brentwood Center has been pushed back from Fall 2018 to possibly Fall 2019 or Spring 2020, the project is picking up steam as the district approves an architectural contract, tries out a new contracting strategy and works with members of the community to mitigate traffic concerns.

“I am pleased to be moving the project forward on the site we spent so much time to acquire,” said District Chief Facilities Planner Ray Pyle.

The Contra Costa Community College District took a big first step forward by voting unanimously at its Feb. 25, to approve a contract with Ratcliff Architecture, who was chosen by district staff to design the new Brentwood Center.

Last August the district received 19 statements of qualifications from architectural firms after voters approved Bond Measure E, which gave the project it’s funding. However, the process was halted due to an eleventh-hour proposal from BART Board of Directors President Joel Keller to move the future permanent site of the Brentwood Center from land already owned by the district to a new location next to a possible future eBART station near Lone Tree Way and the Mokulomne Trail.

But the district governing board, in a 4-1 vote, ultimately decided against the move at its Nov. 12 meeting after conducting a feasibility study on the matter and the district seems to have picked up where it left off in the fall of 2014.

According to the Feb. 25 meeting agenda the new agreement with Ratcliff Architecture, which is good from March 5 through Aug. 31 of 2015, is worth $80,000 and will “provide preliminary architectural planning and program services.”

District Governing Board President John Nejedly was pleased with the uncontested decision and thanked the board for its choice.

“I am glad we can all agree that it’s time to move forward and provide a center for Brentwood, a permanent facility that meets the accreditation issues that came up … and provide the students the secondary education they deserve in the area,” said Nejedly.

“You better move Mr. President, somebody might change their mind,” joked District Governing Board Vice President John Marquez after Nejedly gave his sentiments.

Not only is the district moving along with its architectural plans for the new Brentwood Center, but it will soon be looking to hire a contractor to build the facility and will be trying something new to make the process more effective.

District Chief Facilities Planner Ray Pyle said the district has chosen a lease-leaseback method to help facilitate a more efficient relationship with the contractor it uses.

“The overview is that we put out a selection process to select a competent contractor to join the team early,” said Pyle. “Essentially they’ll help us with design and formulation of the technical aspects of the contracts.”

This means the contractor can mitigate problems as they arise in the design process, before construction begins, which keeps cost down and the relationship less adversarial.

“In a design, bid to build project [which is what the district has previously done] if there are problems with design errors that the [contractor] find, then they come to us and they ask for a lot more money,” said Pyle. “They’re trying to make more money and we are trying to minimize the amount of money that they make.”

But Pyle explained in a presentation to the district governing board at its Feb. 25 meeting, with this new approach cost becomes less of a surprise. Because the contractor has been involved with the design process early on, the contractor will be able to quote how much the new Brentwood Center will cost to build.

The second benefit of this method is the district will not have to pay the contractor up front.

Pyle explained, “Once the design is done there [are] typically two leases. There is a land lease in which we lease them the land we own during the term of the construction and then they leaseback the building that they’re going to construct.”

This allows the district to pay for construction in monthly installments instead of all up front and after the center is completed “both leases terminate and then we own a new building on land that we already own,” said Pyle.

District Governing Board Trustee Greg Enholm voiced his approval of this method at the meeting.

“This sounds like an excellent opportunity for us to have a test and when we see how it works in reality, if it works, … we can use it on other buildings, “ said Enholm.

LMC Vice President Kevin Horan echoed Enholm’s sentiments in an email interview later and gave praise to Pyle’s efforts with the project.

“It’s been a pleasure working with Ray on the Brentwood Center project as well as other projects on the Pittsburg campus. [He] brings a wealth of experience to the district,” said Horan. “I am also pleased that he has been able to introduce alternative methods to the design and construction process, which ultimately result in cost-effective and efficiently run projects.”

District staff have also been meeting with members of the age-restricted communities Trilogy and Summerset, which are located near the land slated for construction of the new permanent Brentwood Center, to help ease concerns brought up in previous district governing board, town hall and Brentwood City Council meetings.

“Since mid-January, we have been meeting with representatives of residents’ groups and the city of Brentwood,” said LMC President Bob Kratochvil. “The purpose of the meetings has been to have open communication about the college’s plans for the campus at the proposed site at Pioneer Park, near Vineyards Parkway and Marsh Creek Road, to learn about the general plan of the city of Brentwood, to garner other available information as identified and to hear firsthand the concerns nearby residents to the proposed campus have about it being built.”

Kratochvil said most recently the task force has been focusing on the issue of traffic, which has been the chief concern for those living in the area, and a traffic study is currently being conducted, but it is still too soon to tell what the outcome of the study will be and what recommendations it will make.

The task force has been tackling the issue of public transportation and has met with Tri-Delta executives to discuss possible bus routes to the site in the future.

“While no specific commitments could be made … it is clear that Tri-Delta Transit understands the need for such service to the new campus and all agreed that the agency would be included in planning discussions going forward,” said Kratochvil.

According to Pyle, if all goes according to plan, construction will begin sometime in 2017.