Child care buildings shouldn’t be rusting

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By Calindra Revier:

While buildings across Ocean campus have been neglected over the years for a variety of reasons, including staff cuts and budget issues, the Orfalea Family Center may be the worse of the worst, even though the buildings themselves are less than six years old.  The rapid deterioration of the buildings appears to be not only from inferior work during the construction process, but also due to the lack of maintenance workers assigned to the buildings.

The Orfalea Family Center buildings on Ocean campus located at the corner of Phelan Avenue and Judson Avenue are in need of structural repair and have started to rust and fall apart, leaving the areas surrounding the building a safety hazard and concern.

The center provides child care for City College students with children, as well as other families. It also provides on site training for students in the Child Development and Family Studies programs at City College.

Judith Hearst, the program coordinator at the center, said the problems with the building “started immediately.”

Originally designed by Project FROG, who specializes in green buildings, the structures were finalized back in January 2008.

“Even at the beginning the construction was really shoddy,” Hearst said, but was not sure that had anything to do with Project FROG.

The roof and the sides of the buildings are rusting and falling apart. There are chunks of rusted metal that have fallen off the building and are lying on the concrete floor near the outside walls.

Large pieces of the overhang on the side of the roof above the children’s outdoor play structures have also been removed for safety purposes.

Hearst explained that there was nobody to maintain the buildings. The idea was that the roof would reseed itself naturally with the seasons. This was ultimately a failed idea.

David Hooper, President of the New Mission Terraces Homeowners Association, seemed surprised about the failure of the buildings.

“Well over a year ago, I noticed that the green roof element had failed and was puzzled,” Hooper said. “After all, these are new buildings and were much touted.”

It is still unclear if the buildings are in this state of degradation because the materials were not treated properly or if the actual materials used were faulty.

Hearst said that the rust has been a bad problem from the beginning.

“A lot of features are not kid friendly,” Hearst said. “At the beginning it was complex because different organizations were involved, separate contractors and too many hands.”

Hearst said that she doesn’t want to complain too much for fear that the program so many students depend on will be shut down.

The program is important to not only students who are taking classes or training programs in the child care development field, but also students who have nowhere else to turn for child care for their own children while pursuing an education.

San Francisco’s other Project Frog buildings include the Crissy Field Center and the Golden Gate Bridge pavilion.

The issue will be a long time in the fixing stages. If no one can be specifically proven to be at fault, the length of time to overcome these problems increases.

Peter Goldstein, vice chancellor of finance and administration at City College, said that they were “examining all possible options” including consulting outside experts and even considering the option of “taking potential legal action.”

The Guardsman