The decision on where the new Oakhurst Community College Center will be built could be at least 30 to 60 days away, and possibly longer.
The Board of Trustees of the State Center Community College District discussed the recommended sites in closed session at their Oct. 3 meeting, held at the Madera Community College Center.
After the closed session, no vote was taken, with trustees asking for additional details on the top four sites recommended by Scott Odell of Odell Planning Research, Inc. of Oakhurst. Odell prepared a 32-page study on all the proposed sites that were presented at a public meeting at the Oakhurst Community Center on Sept. 21.
The district is not planning any additional public meetings in Oakhurst prior to making the decision on the construction site.
Odell’s recommended site for the college is on the present 2.73 acres on the southeast corner of Crane Valley Road (426) and Golden Oak Loop. The plan includes acquiring an additional 2.99 acres from Madera County (where the library sits), and the 3.3-acre vacant lot adjacent to the Chevron station owned by Chip Pashayan, giving the college a total of 10.02 acres.
Odell’s recommendation received mixed reactions.
“The atmosphere of the campus is important,” real estate consultant and land planner Russ Shaw commented at the Sept. 21 meeting. “Yosemite High School is away from town, yet is a beautiful campus, providing a great atmosphere for the students. The college should not be placed in the middle of town surrounded by commercial buildings.”
Shaw submitted one of the site proposals (No. 4).
At the time Shaw said that his position is in no way intended to be disparaging with respect to the goal of providing the community of Oakhurst with a new college campus.
Long time community member and businessman George Sitts remarked in his opinion that the current site recommendation does not fit with what the community wants.
Dr. Sandra Caldwell, president of Reedley College which includes the Oakhurst and Madera Community College Centers, said she was very pleased with the input that was received from the community at the meeting, and from an online survey.
Three additional sites were considered
The No. 2 recommendation is a combination of two proposals submitted by Ron Montgomery and Nick Schneider, providing 21 acres on the east side of Highway 41 near Hartwell Road.
The No. 3 recommendation is on 6 acres between the back of the Sierra Star building (49165 Crane Valley Road - 426) and Sierra Telephone’s Parkway Building.
Odell’s study states the No. 2 and No. 3 sites are roughly equal, with different benefits and drawbacks. Both are highly visible with adjacent or nearby utilities and transit. Both have the potential for good street access once the planned Mid-Town Connector is complete, and a signal is installed at Road 426 and Sierra Way. Recommendation No. 2 has terrain challenges and is further from the center of town.
Site No. 3 has flat terrain, and is closer to the center of town, but at only six acres, the site is smaller than ideal. However, it could work depending on design of the campus, and with the potential for acquiring an adjacent one-acre parcel.
Recommendation No. 4 is for a 20.7-acre site on the west side of Westlake Drive off Highway 49, north of Highway 41.
NOTE: The complete study can be seen at scccd.edu.