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LBNL delays decision on second campus until early 2012

on November 22, 2011

The Lawrence Berkeley National Lab will not choose a site for its second campus until early 2012, the lab announced today. The final decision had been expected later this month, and has been anxiously awaited in Richmond, where city officials hope the lab could be an engine of economic growth. But in a press release sent out this morning, the lab explained that it needed more time to evaluate the six potential sites.

“We have been working diligently over the past months since announcing our list of finalists,” Lab Director Paul Alivisatos said in the statement. “We need a bit more time to fully evaluate our options and to confer with stakeholders in order to arrive at the best possible decision.”

Spokesman Jon Weiner said the lab has now received all the information it requested from the various sites, and simply needs more time to consult with its partners, primarily the University of California and the Department of Energy, which jointly administer the lab and will take part in the final decision. Weiner said he could not put a precise date on the final decision. “I would think it would be the first few months of 2012,” he said.

The lab is seeking a site to consolidate three bioscience facilities now scattered between Walnut Creek, West Berkeley and Emeryville, and which can accommodate future expansion. The finalists include sites in Albany, West Berkeley, Emeryville, Alameda, and Oakland, as well as the Richmond Field Station, which sits between the Richmond Annex and Marina Bay neighborhoods.

Richmond has aggressively wooed the lab, which city officials hope would bring jobs and spin-off businesses to the city. In July, 700 community members turned out at a meeting with lab officials, to make the case for Richmond. Hundreds of residents have sent postcards to LBNL, urging the lab to choose Richmond, in a campaign organized by the city.

The six sites in the running were called this morning to inform them that the decision would be delayed.

City Manager Bill Lindsay said that he found out about the delay around noon, when he received a call from the lab’s community relations manager Sam Chapman. Lindsay said he hadn’t heard much more than was in the public announcement.

“What I told Sam was, I know that the lab has an important decision…[and] I thought that they had a real aggressive schedule to evaluate the sites,” Lindsay said. “I understand, because it’s an important decision, and because they have so much information to digest, it may take a little longer than they thought.”


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