Rehab Hopes Ride on Prop. 203

If Voters Pass the Bond Measure, Badly Needed Seismic, Safety Upgrades Begin

by Marie Felde

The grand and historic, but seismically poor Hearst Memorial Mining Building will be a major beneficiary of Proposition 203 if California voters approve the bond measure on the March 26 ballot.

Proposition 203 asks voters to approve $3 billion in general obligation bonds for California's schools. This is the first time ever that K-12 and higher education have teamed up on a bond measure.

"This represents an important partnership we've never had before," said Len Materman, the campus's government affairs coordinator.

The campus will be working with schools, community colleges and Cal State campuses in the area to build grassroots support for the measure, he said.

Materman noted that this collaborative approach complements the campus's current outreach efforts with such initiatives as the Berkeley Pledge.

Called the Public Education Facilities Bond Act of 1996, Proposition 203 would raise funds to improve the seismic and life safety of facilities in every county of the state. It also provides funds to update labs and libraries.

Of the $3 billion provided by the bond, about $2 billion will go towards K-12 needs, with the remaining $975 million to community colleges and universities.

The UC system will receive about $325 million with Berkeley slated to receive more than $54 million. Of this, $32 million will be used to renovate and stabilize the Hearst Mining Building.

In addition, bond money would be used for other seismic upgrades and planning, fire alarm system improvements and classroom renovations of two large lecture halls in Evans Hall. Funds will also be used for the new hazardous materials storage facility planned on campus.

Passage of the measure is critical, said Materman, because the state has identified no other sources of funds for this kind of capital improvement.

Among those supporting the measure are the League of Women Voters, the California Chamber of Commerce and the California Taxpayers' Association.

Designed by John Galen Howard, the neo-classic Hearst Memorial Mining Building was completed in 1907.

It is regarded as the among the most important buildings on campus, from an architectural and historical standpoint.

Today, the building houses classrooms and laboratories and is headquarters for mineral engineering and materials science.

With a commitment from the state to make the building seismically stable, the College of Engineering has pledged to raise another $28 million in private funds to bring the research facilities into the 21st century.

The building is named for George Hearst, a successful prospector who became a millionaire and a U.S. senator.

A sizable amount of its construction costs were a gift from his wife, Phoebe Apperson Hearst.

Inside the stunning three-story vestibule is a plaque that reads: "This building stands as a memorial to George Hearst, a plain honest man and good miner."


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