Austin Community College held two Community Conversations in southwest Austin in December to provide updates on the college's Districtwide Campus Master Plan (DCMP) and let the community weigh in on the future of its 58-acre Pinnacle Campus.
Dozens of community members attended the discussions, which included a brief presentation by college leadership and Pfluger Architects — the firm hired to lead the DCMP process — and a community exercise to gain feedback and generate ideas for a future campus on site.
"ACC is not leaving southwest Austin. There is going to be a future campus at Pinnacle. We have nearly 50 acres of current green space, but we don't want to move forward without first hearing from those who live and work here," says Dr. Richard Rhodes, ACC president/CEO.
The college is currently in the research phase of developing plans for a future campus on 49-acres of current green space at Pinnacle.
"I would be thrilled if I could stand out on my deck and look out over a campus serving this whole area. My neighbors are excited, too. We see the need and the opportunity that it provides — bridging high school to the four-year university and the certifications and skilled trades areas," says Karon Rilling, southwest Austin resident whose property backs up to the Pinnacle property.
"It's critical to any community to have access to a community college. People want something that eliminates the barriers," says Rich DePalma, a southwest Austin resident and co-chair of ACC's South Regional Advisory Committee.
The college closed the Pinnacle building in 2018 to evaluate needed repairs and renovation and in April 2019, the ACC Board of Trustees declared the building and egress and ingress land as surplus property that no longer met the standards and mission of the college and would be too costly to renovate.
"When Pinnacle closed, I had to start traveling twice as far to get to the classes I need," says Christina Horak, ACC student. "I was really excited to have a chance to share my thoughts. The campus was so important to me. To know that (the college) is deciding what to do with it; I feel like I have power being in on this conversation about what should happen because it's my future, and it's my education. I think it's important."
An update on the process is on the agenda for the February 2020 ACC Board of Trustees work session. A copy of the presentation and handouts from the Community Conversations, as well as event photos, can be found on the Pinnacle Next Steps webpage.