SOLEDAD — Hartnell College will celebrate the start of construction on its new Soledad Education Center with a public groundbreaking ceremony at 11 a.m. this Friday, Nov. 8.
The 16,750-square-foot multipurpose educational center is being built on 3.7 acres at the northeast corner of Metz Road and Orchard Lane, across from San Vicente Elementary School. The general contractor is Dilbeck and Sons, and the design architect is In Studio Architecture.
Scheduled to open in spring 2021, the building will include four classrooms and both wet and dry science laboratories, as well as a Student Success Center, a courtyard and a community room.
Solar panels on the site are expected to meet about 95 percent of the center’s electrical needs. A bus pullout will enable regular stops by Monterey-Salinas Transit, which now offers free rides to all Hartnell students at any time to any destination within its service area.
The Soledad center is being funded through Measure T, a $167 million bond measure approved in November 2016 by voters in the Hartnell Community College District. An expansion of the King City Education Center, doubling it in size, is also a Measure T project. A groundbreaking there is anticipated sometime this December.
Hartnell also is building an education center in Castroville, serving north Monterey County, and a new nursing and health sciences building on its Main Campus in Salinas.
In addition to college officials, participants in the ceremony on the Soledad site will include Soledad Mayor Fred Ledesma, Soledad Unified School District Superintendent Tim Vanoli, Monterey County Supervisor Chris Lopez and students from the Soledad Youth Council.
In recent weeks, Hartnell has held public forums in King City, Soledad, Gonzales and Castroville to seek input from elected officials, educators and employers about how the new centers can best meet the long-term needs of the college and Salinas Valley communities.
During an Oct. 29 forum in the Gonzales Police Department conference room, Hartnell Board Trustee Erica Padilla-Chavez stressed that economic well-being at the individual, family and community levels is the overarching goal of the new centers and Measure T as a whole.
“We’re trying to very much harness that investment to make sure our students complete their education, so that they can contribute economically to their families and also to our communities,” Padilla-Chavez said. “When the conversation took place on the board about issuing new bonds, it was keenly acknowledged that we now we had an opportunity to fully align the programs of our college to meet the economic needs of the community.”