On the eastern edge of Pitzer College and Claremont McKenna College’s campuses lies a large pit, barren except for rocks and overgrown vegetation, bordered by a rusty, barbed-wire topped fence covered in ‘No Trespassing’ signs declaring that the land is the property of the Claremont University Consortium (CUC). This land, known colloquially as ‘the pit,’ will soon be split up, with pieces sold to Pitzer and CMC, and will eventually be developed into new athletic facilities, according to the CUC Vice President for Business and Administration Lori Husein.
Pitzer plans to purchase 16.7 acres of ‘the pit,’ while CMC will buy 41.2 acres, according to Anna Chang, Pitzer’s Senior Director of Communications and Media Relations and Joann Young, CMC’s Director of Media Relations. The CUC’s transactions with Pitzer and CMC have been in the works since July 2008, according to Chang.
According to Chang, Pitzer plans to build a new athletic complex on its portion of ‘the pit.’ Pitzer’s tentative plans for the land include constructing outdoor volleyball, tennis, and basketball courts, as well as multipurpose fields.
Pitzer decided to purchase a section of ‘the pit’ from the CUC “to provide more resources for our students,” Chang wrote in an email to TSL.
The current plans for the Keck Science Department’s new building would eliminate the outdoor recreational courts on Pitzer’s campus, necessitating the construction of new athletic facilities for Pitzer students.
“Putting the [‘pit’] to use for recreational purposes is one way to address the lack of recreational spaces on campus,” Pitzer Student Body President Josue Pasillas PZ ‘17 wrote in an email to TSL.
CMC does not plan to immediately develop its parcel of ‘the pit,’ but will keep it in reserve in case the college decides to increase enrollment in the future and needs to relocate parking lots and athletic fields to make room for additional housing.
“The purchase resulted from a campus planning process that was activated in response to a directive from the Board of Trustees to plan for a future potential enrollment of 1400, our constitutional limit,” Young wrote in an email to TSL. “The Board did not want to make decisions on a project-by project basis without the benefit of a longer-term vision.”
CMC’s current enrollment is 1344 students, with 84 off-campus on study abroad or study-away programs. CMC is currently housing 15 transfer students in the Brighton Park Apartment complex because there were no beds available for them on campus at the beginning of the semester, highlighting the need for additional housing if the Board decides to expand enrollment to 1400 students.
According to the proposed Master Plan published on CMC’s website, the athletic complex that CMC may build in ‘the pit’ would include a football field, running track, baseball and softball fields, Argentinean paddle tennis, an archery range, and a golf practice area, as well as a field house with locker rooms and other facilities.
Moving some of its athletic fields to ‘the pit’ would allow CMC to enlarge Parents Field near the east end of its campus and add two new residence halls around a quad, garden areas, new alumni and admissions offices, and a new entry gate on the east end of campus, according to the Master Plan.
The planned land transactions for ‘the pit’ will expand Pitzer’s physical size by nearly 50 percent, from 34 acres to 50.7 acres, and CMC’s size by nearly 60%, from 69 acres to 110.2 acres.
Pitzer and CMC students have generally not been made aware of the schools’ plans to buy and develop ‘the pit.’
“Moving forward, it is necessary for the college to include students in any discussions about ‘the pit’ because, currently, most students do not know about the plans for this land,” Pasillas wrote in an email to TSL.
Associated Students of CMC President Nicky Blumm told TSL that he did not know any specifics of CMC’s plans.
The CUC still owns approximately 37 acres of undeveloped land, including 32 acres on Indian Hill Boulevard and five acres next to the Biological Field Station on Foothill Boulevard, according to Husein.
“There are no definite plans for the land except that it will be used to accommodate future growth needs of the colleges,” Husein wrote in an email to TSL.