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GA lift project moves forward

Installation to comply with federal standard

By Lorenzo Morotti, associate editor
On April 8, 2014

The addition of a pre-fabricated, modular elevator to the exterior of the 42-year-old Gym Annex Building will enter the bidding process for a contractor in May, after spending years in planning limbo.
The second floor of the building has been inaccessible to students with disabilities since it was constructed.
College classes that were held on the second floor in years past were relocated to other buildings on campus beginning a decade ago in order to be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act passed in 1990.
However, a Middle College High School World History class meets daily on the second floor of the building, an ADA violation. MCHS is housed entirely on the Contra Costa College campus.
The fact that the GA Building is not up to ADA code caught MCHS Principal Anne Shin off guard when she was told on Monday.
"It's not up to ADA code?" Shin asked. "I had no idea. That's space we were assigned by the college."
The GA Building is the only multi-storied structure on campus that does not have an elevator.
The GA Building contains two classrooms and athletic offices on the second floor that are inaccessible to students who have mobility issues and cannot walk up the flight of stairs. This denies students the chance to receive advice and guidance from staff or be able to attend lecture classes that are needed to graduate.
Because of this, health education and physical education professor Beth Goehring has not been able to teach any of her Education for Healthful Living (Health Ed 120) sections on the second floor near her GA-70 office, she said. The sections were relocated to LA-100.
"It (the elevator project) has been a long time in the planning stages," Goehring said. "We are closer to getting the elevator now than we ever have been before. I'm looking forward to the start of the project."
ADA code states that a public entity may not deny the benefits of its programs, activities and services to individuals with disabilities because its facilities are inaccessible. California community colleges and all K-12 schools are public institutions.
Because the GA Building was erected in 1972, well before the establishment of the ADA, an elevator in the building was not required.
"The total construction cost of the elevator will be around $500,000," Contra Costa Community College District Chief Facilities Planner Ray Pyle said. The money to complete the project will be taken out of Measure A bond funds. Measure A was approved by county voters in 2006.
The elevator will be located in the northwest corner of the building, adjacent to Comet Stadium and the tennis courts.
Other construction projects on campus, such as renovations to the Music, Library and Applied Arts buildings, and a seismic retrofit for the Liberal Arts Building, have delayed the construction of the elevator until this year.
The elevator's original completion date was fall 2012. It was then pushed back because the district was waiting for additional funding from the state, Pyle said. When months of waiting became years, the district decided to proceed with funds from the 2006 bond measure, he said.
CCC Building and Grounds Manager Bruce King said, "We would have to spend about $6 million if we wanted to bring the college (completely up) to ADA code."
That is money the district does not have, he said.
But as long as the district is working toward bringing the college up to ADA standards with each construction project funded, then the college will be allowed to operate even if some areas of campus are not yet compliant with the law.
A few months ago the district received approval from the Department of State Architecture to begin the bidding process for a contractor to install the elevator, King said.
With the various projects under construction at Contra Costa College - specifically the new Campus Center and three-story classroom building - Pyle said the district has been unable to get all its projects started as quickly as it would have liked.
To help the planning department at the district juggle multiple construction projects at CCC, Pyle said six months ago he brought Critical Solutions Inc. on board, a project and construction management consultant firm based in Walnut Creek, giving his staff more flexibility.
"We have seen excellent results," he said.
Critical Solutions Finance and Administration President Ron Johnson said construction to attach the pre-fabricated elevator to the outside of the building would start in June and take about four months to complete.
King said, "Construction will overlap with the fall semester, so students will have to deal with an obstruction."
The first thing students will notice, he said, will be blocked pathways and fences, forcing them to take alternate routes to class.
CCC Athletic Director John Wade, whose office is in GA-90, said the inconvenience is worth it.
"It (the elevator) is of huge importance," he said. "This building has never had an elevator in it before. It's been around for almost 50 years without giving easy access to all students." 

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