COS trustees move forward with plans for new fire tower, student housing

Staff Writer
Mount Shasta Herald

College of the Siskiyous trustees voted on Sept. 10 to move forward with two projets, including a new fire tower and possible expansion of student housing.

Fire tower

Trustees heard a report from Mark Klever requesting approval of funding for the concept and design for a new Fire Tower Training Facility in order for the College to develop an RFP for a new Fire Tower at the Weed Campus. The current tower was erected in 2004 and is owned by the City of Weed, due to the College’s inability at that time to acquire Division of State Architect approval for the “Conex box style tower” that was selected at that time for use for training. The current tower, while functional, is difficult to maintain.

Constructing a fire tower that is DSA approved would benefit the long-term sustainability of the College of the Siskiyous’ Fire Program, the school said in a press release. With a DSA approved tower, COS would be eligible to provide fire training currently unavailable to provide due to the limitations of the existing tower. The proposed fire tower is flexible and adaptable to the college’s needs and would provide state of the art training for the Fire Program, EMS/Paramedic Program, and the Law Enforcement Academy as well. This project is estimated at $600,000, according to COS.

The College has Strong Workforce Funds allocated to support Public Safety projects and the construction of a tower, the school said in their release. Trustees approved the funding for the proposed new Fire Tower training facility, and directed the College to develop an RFP for a new tower

Over the last few years, COS Lodge staff have recognized a growing need for student housing. Currently College of the Siskiyous is one of 11 colleges with on-campus housing for students. Data accumulated over the past five years show a steadily decreasing vacancy rate, according to the school.

Student housing

Having space for students to live while attending college is an important consideration for managing enrollment and growth in student base, their release states. The expansion of the Lodges is identified in the Institutional Master Plan as a necessary action step to build institutional capacity.

Lodge staff contacted housing development companies that advertise online and in the national magazine Student Housing Business. Of the five companies contacted, Servitas, LLC was the only company to respond.

To consider expanding on-campus housing capacity, the first step is to conduct a feasibility study. The feasibility study will take place in two stages.

Stage 1 will collect student preferences for floor plans, location, rent levels, and amenities. If the summary and analysis of stage one data is compelling to both Servitas, LLC and the district, a more in-depth Stage 2 study will be conducted.

The second stage incorporates data on student housing options in the community and any projects in development. Stage 2 must be conducted by a neutral third party, and is required for project financing.

A team from Servitas, LLC attended the meeting to present information regarding their services and options for project financing. Servitas, LLC Vice President, David Braden explained their use of a public private partnership model, in which public projects can be built using private funding. Through a use agreement, the public agency can pay for the project over a specified time using fees collected from the project.

The P3 model allows a college like COS to determine how much or little involvement is needed in the project, the release states. The value to the district of a P3 model for housing expansion on campus is there are no upfront costs incurred by the district in these projects. Funds for construction and management (if not assumed by the District) are secured by Servitas, LLC until repaid by housing fees, rents, etc. Once paid off, ownership of the facility is transferred to the District.

Trustees approved Stage 1 of a housing feasibility study to be conducted by Servitas, LLC. The district will pay for the feasibility student only if the results of the study show a need for housing and the board decides not to enlist the services of Servitas, LLC as a partner in the construction of the proposed project.

Stage 1 of the feasibility study is $5,000, plus travel and expenses for the visit to the college. If the district stops the project after Stage 1, these costs will be paid by the Lodge enterprise account.

Estimates for a third party to conduct Stage 2 study are approximately $30,000 and would be financed into the overall project costs. All COS students are asked to participate in the housing survey and should check their campus email to participate.

Staff reports

In his staff report to the Board of Trustees on Sept. 10, College of the Siskiyous Superintendent/President Dr. Stephen Schoonmaker provided a brief summary regarding highlights of what has been happening on campus and interactions in the community. The fall semester officially begin Aug. 26 with a week of activities held each day to inform and engage students as they became integrated into the fall semester.

COS Vice President Darlene Melby shared an update on final changes and updates to the 2019/2020 District Final Budget, which made its way through Integrated Planning and Budget and College Council. The budget is the result of a collaborative, inclusive, and transparent process undertaken by the participatory governance process, the college said in a recent press release.

According to Vice President of Student Services Melissa Green, much of August was spent in preparation for the new fall semester. This included finalizing plans for Week of Welcome, International Student Orientation, and the Siskiyou Promise Reception in addition to advising and registering students.

Next meeting

The next regular COS Board of Trustees meeting will be held Oct. 8 at the Yreka Campus in the Rural Health Sciences Institute. Closed session will begin at 5 p.m. followed by the public open session beginning at 6 p.m.