Unique Benefits From Austin Center Demolition

December 17th, 2015 - 12:00am

Project Helped Communities, the Environment, and Added Additional Parking Spaces

KENTFIELD, CA—At the end of the spring 2015 semester, College personnel with offices in the Austin Center prepared for demolition of the building and packed to move into their new locations. This particular demo included a unique humanistic and environmental aspect. Throughout the process communities benefited, no waste went to the landfill, and over 70 additional parking spaces were added.

During the last week of May, College Maintenance and Operations staff worked alongside movers to remove all furniture and out-of-date but useable technology equipment from the Austin Center. Useable furniture, materials, and equipment were repurposed wherever possible within the College. The remaining items were then offered up to the public in a surplus sale that was originally scheduled from May 28 to 30, but was extended to June 3 due to high interest. Those who took away items were encouraged to make a donation to their favorite academic department.

Chemistry Instructor Dr. Kofi Opong-Mensah was walking by the sale and the sight of all the desks, tables, and chairs made him think of his hometown of Ghana. Leading the effort, Dr. Opong-Mensah, along with the African Cultural Center USA, worked with College administrators and staff to secure a shipping container and fill it with classroom equipment. The cost of the shipping container was covered by the African Cultural Center and its contents will provide much needed desks, tables, chairs, and other equipment to colleges in Ghana.

“Some students in Ghana have to study under the canopy of trees,” said Opong-Mensah. “This appeared to be a wonderful opportunity to help students with some classroom materials and equipment.”

Many people in the community also benefited from the sale. A nonprofit organization offering afterschool and summer programs to children in the Canal area of San Rafael saved their summer program by outfitting an entire classroom with furniture and other items they found at the surplus sale. A group of individuals starting a school for the developmentally disabled in Sonoma found items that helped furnish their first classrooms. Staff also had the pleasure of seeing young children getting their first computer at the sale.

Prior to the surplus sale, it was estimated that a total of 15 dumpsters with a capacity of 40 yards each would be needed to hold the unwanted items from this project. The District would have incurred an estimated $15,000 in landfill costs. In the end, nothing was sent to the landfill.

“It is amazing to think that this 60,000 square foot building was filled with classroom and office furniture and nothing went to waste,” said Vice President of Finance and College Operations Greg Nelson. “Furniture was reused where possible, all metal and iron that wasn’t taken was recycled, and the public and a host of nonprofit organizations were able to take advantage of these resources that could have potentially cost the District to dispose of and added to the landfill.”

The final phase of the project wrapped up recently with paving and striping of the new parking lot where the Austin Center previously stood. The addition of over 70 parking spaces is anticipated to ease parking congestion during peak use at the beginning of the semester.

To honor the men and women who have served in the military, five spots have been designated for veterans. One of those spots, painted purple, is reserved for recipients of the Purple Heart Medal. Veterans will receive an additional window decal identifying them as veterans to display above their parking permit.