Expanded Garfield campus debuts

Nine years’ worth of public campaigning, budget revisions and contract negotiations culminated this week as Glendale Community College debuted a newly expanded Garfield campus, home to its certificate and continuing education programs.

The $22.8-million revamp of the satellite site at 1122 E. Garfield Ave. in South Glendale included a new 38,000-square-foot building with classrooms, administrative offices and a career center. It also incorporated a new child care facility and parking areas.

The architectural aesthetic of the secondary campus now mirrors that of the main campus on Verdugo Road, and the new construction is expected to be certified as ultra-environmentally friendly.

“My career couldn’t have ended on a higher note — a dream come true to provide these incredible facilities for students, staff, community,” said Karen Holden-Ferkich, the recently retired associate vice president of continuing and community education who was a driving force in seeing the project through.

The Garfield campus dates back to 1994, and for 17 years, classes and other programming were conducted in a single building and a handful of temporary bungalows. But the former facilities could not keep up with demand, as the number of students visiting the site swelled to 15,000 annually.

The previous facilities were so lacking that students were forced to eat lunch sitting in their cars — if they could find a parking spot.

“We had no parking for our students,” said Annette Amirian, who has taught math and accounting at the Garfield campus for 11 years. “They were coming in here and twirling around for 30, 40 minutes looking for parking and then parking three-quarters of a mile away and hiking in.”

In 2002, local voters passed Measure G, a $98-million bond dedicated to major capital improvement projects at Glendale Community College. Deep in the queue were plans to revamp and expand the Garfield campus.

But the project nearly faltered before ever really getting underway. The Glendale Community College Board of Trustees originally approved a budget of about $16 million. By 2005, projected costs had escalated, and Holden-Ferkich and other proponents returned to the board to ask for an additional $6.1 million during an intense, hours-long meeting.

“In those days, the costs were still going up because the recession hadn’t hit,” Holden-Ferkich said. “We needed more money. There was a presentation, and we showed them the bungalows and the poor conditions that our students were learning in.”

Despite strong resistance from some, the board voted to increase the budget, and construction began in fall 2009.

“Not one General Fund dollar was spent on the project,” Holden-Ferkich said. “Measure G bond funds were used for all of the construction, and grant set-aside funds were used for the technology and the furniture.”

Classes start Monday at Garfield. The face lift will serve the basic needs of students and staff, while also lifting the profile of the college’s non-credit programs, officials said.

“This community in particular supported Measure G incredibly, and this is what we brought to you … in order to help our students succeed,” said college board President Anita Gabrielian.

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