Cunningham demolition reprieve possible

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The Cunningham Center could be saved — for now.

The destruction of the Cunningham building, which was to be demolished in spring 2013, is now tentative pending a decision on use of the space within it.

The building’s demise stems from a $255 billion bond measure passed in 2004.

Part of that money was allocated to build the new math and science building that is currently under construction.

The district, however, had to promise the demolition of the old Cunningham building to continue with the new project.

According to Dr. Matt Wetstein, Dean of Planning, Research, & Institutional Effectiveness, Cunningham was set to be demolished for a couple of reasons.

The ratio of space to students would be very high and there would be many classrooms going unused, as the college cannot afford to hire new teachers to fill the empty space, he said.

Also, there is asbestos in the building, and the cost of safe renovation, which is needed for the labs, would be higher than the cost of simply tearing down the building.

Asbestos is a building material commonly used in before it was banned in 1970.

Asbestos is believed to be linked to cancer, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Still, tearing down a building that can still be used for other purposes didn’t seem logical.

The district is now appealing to the state to defer demolition on the grounds of using the building for non-educational purposes.

“It is still all hypothetical at this point,” said Wetstein.

Dr. Jeff Marsee, President/Superintendent of San Joaquin Delta College, has proposed uses for each of the floors.

The first floor would remain the student lounge.

The second would be for office.

The third and fourth floors would be for the Middle College High School and potential leasing.

“He’s looking for any way that he can to avoid tearing down Cunningham,” said Wetstein of Marsee’s plans.