Santa Rosa Junior College officials updating community on $410 million upgrade plan

A public forum will be held Jan. 14 at the Lawrence A. Bertolini Student Activities Center.|

Four years after local voters passed the largest bond measure in Sonoma County history, new buildings, renovations and upgrades across the Santa Rosa Junior College campuses in the city and Petaluma are progressing on schedule.

Called Measure H, the $410 million facilities bond voters approved in 2014, is paying for construction of a classroom building, student center, science center, multipurpose building, as well as upgrades to athletic fields and much more.

'I think the college is such an important part of the community that we're very careful how we spend,' Leigh Sata, director of the college's capital projects, said of the bond money. 'We understand that it's a gift from the community.'

Sata will present an update on the projects at a community forum on Jan. 14, including two of the biggest — the Lindley Center for STEM Education and the Burbank Auditorium renovation — and the college's $32.5 million energy sustainability plan.

The science, technology, engineering and mathematics center, named after longtime trustee W. Terry Lindley, is the most expensive project funded by the bond measure. The center will cost about $75 million to build and cover 105,000 square feet.

Designs of the Lindley center, by San Francisco-based SmithGroup and Sonoma-based STRATA a|p architects, are nearly complete, Sata said. The center will eventually replace Beck and Shuhaw Hall just off of Elliott Avenue on the Santa Rosa campus.

The college broke ground in November on the first part of the Lindley center project, the 30,000-square-foot Elliott classroom building.

'The next three years will be an exciting time as we work towards bringing a new, innovative science center to SRJC,' Victor Tam, the STEM dean, said in a statement.

Another major project is the ongoing $28 million renovation and expansion of the 400-seat Luther Burbank Auditorium on Mendocino Avenue on the city campus. The renovations will comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act and will add a multifunctional 200-seat theater that can be used as a classroom, black box theater or movie theater. The auditorium will reopen this fall.

A new $5.7 million multipurpose building is on track for completion in April at the college's Public Safety Center in Windsor.

At the Petaluma campus, construction will start later this year on a smaller science center and a student center, which Sata said he hopes will reorient the campus that was built in two parts.

College officials last updated their construction spending related to the massive bond measure over two years ago when an ambitious long-term 236-page improvement plan was unveiled.

'We're excited to share what's happening here. We welcome people's questions,' Sata said.

The upcoming community forum will be held at the Lawrence A. Bertolini Student Activities Center on the Santa Rosa campus from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. There will be free parking.

'These improvements will benefit students for generations to come,' college President Frank Chong said in the statement.

You can reach Staff Writer Susan Minichiello at 707-521-5216 or On Twitter @susanmini.

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