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Work at Southwestern College overcomes setbacks

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Progress in being made and projects are moving forward after delays at Southwestern College for its Proposition R construction bond measure.

The $389 million bond program has two projects under construction, two that are about to start construction, three in the design phase and three projects whose programs are about to commence.

The closest project to completion is the new Field House Classroom Building and improvements to the football stadium. Concrete flooring has already been placed, and interior framing and drywalls are being finished.

In February, constructed started on the realignment project at the Lot J entrance into the school from East H Street.

The next two projects to start are the sewer pump station and the campuswide central plant, both of which will start in March.

The central plant project received construction bids for system expansion in January. In February, staff issued a notice to proceed with construction and materials were ordered.

The three projects in the design phase include the Solar Initiative Project, the Emergency Communication System and for improvements at the National City satellite campus.

On the Solar Initiative Project, the design-build contract has been executed, and lot surveys and soil testing are being performed.

For the schoolwide Emergency Communication System, layout and design are being worked on and school staff has scheduled a summer 2014 installation date.

At Southwestern College’s National City satellite campus, program has been completed on the future renovations to the existing building including geotechnical work on the site.

Three projects are entering their infancy.

One is for a new performing arts and cultural center. Southwestern College staff is looking at similar projects around the region and drawing up a short list of architects.

The second is a plan to install water supply lines; a bid just went out this month. The third is a wellness center, whose programming on what to include inside the building started this month.

In December, the Southwestern Community College Governing board approved a project labor agreement for its Proposition R projects with San Diego construction trades unions.

It puts in place the Community Benefits Agreement that states that the hiring practices, wages and benefits in regards to the demolition, construction, alteration, repair and maintenance of the remaining projects of the Proposition R bond measure.

The labor agreement involves the community college district and San Diego Building and Construction Trade Council and signatory craft unions.

The governing board's decision does not affect ongoing Proposition R work such as the Field House, the central plant and the work at the National City campus.

One of the largest Proposition R developments that will fall under the Community Benefits Agreement is the new wellness center. The $70 million project calls for two pools, a new performing arts center and plaza.

In March 2012, the governing board re-examined its $389 million Proposition R construction bond measure -- approved by voters in 2008 -- to determine the best use of funds and reassess its priorities following bribery charges filed against current and former community college officials and a contractor.

Last month, four former Southwestern College officials pleaded guilty to felonies and misdemeanors. Former administrators Nicholas Alioto and John Wilson, along with former trustees Yolanda Salcido and Jorge Dominguez, all likely avoided prison sentences by admitting guilt to one count. They joined former superintendent Raj. K. Chopra as former college officials guilty of crimes related to Proposition R funding.

In June 2012, the board initially voted 4-1 to start negotiations with labor unions for Proposition R projects that either have not yet been bid out or have to be rebid.

In February, the Construction Management Association of America selected Southwestern College as a distinguished owner for its management of Proposition R over the last year.

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