Schenectady County Community College wants the soon-to-be-vacated Schenectady Armory on Washington Avenue for athletic events and education programs, officials said Wednesday.
The state will stop using the 72-year-old castle-like structure after Aug. 1 as a base for three New York National Guard units, making it available for other uses, said Eric Durr of the state Division of Military and Naval Affairs.
Two of the units — the 64-member 501st Explosive Ordnance Battalion and the 127-member E Company 427th Support Battalion — will relocate to the new Armed Forces Reserve Center at the Schenectady County Airport. The third unit, the 206th MP Company, has moved to a facility constructed adjacent to New York National Guard headquarters in Latham.
The $20 million federal reserve center will open officially today in Glenville. It will become home to 700 military units, including Navy and Marine Corps personnel.
Durr said the state Office of General Services will become responsible for the armory after the units relocate. Historic items in the armory will either go to the state Military History Museum or to the units’ new headquarters.
SCCC officials have already told the state they are interested in the building. They incorporated the 83,000-square-foot building into their latest master plan, said college spokeswoman Heather Meaney.
“We have expressed interest in it. We could use it as an athletic facility, for coaches’ offices, and we could also use it for training and offices for our emergency management program,” Meaney said. SCCC men’s and women’s basketball teams and intramural teams use the armory now for games.
Meaney said the state and the county would have to negotiate for the building. The college would not own the armory, she said.
As part of the master plan, the college wants to spend $78 million between now and 2014 to repair campus buildings and to expand. The plan, released last June, outlines SCCC’s efforts to expand beyond its current site near the Western Gateway Bridge. It calls for the creation of a “Liberty Quad” in the area near the armory. The quad would contain new college buildings, student housing and an athletic facility. A raised, covered walkway over Washington Avenue would connect the existing campus with Liberty Quad.
Durr said the state is discontinuing the use of armories throughout the state. “The problem you have with older armories is they were built for a different military. They are basically big rooms where guys can march and can be used for social events like dances,” he said.
The modern Army does its training in the field and at special facilities, Durr said. Also, the older buildings are not designed for computers and modern communication systems and are expensive to maintain. The Schenectady armory costs the state $96,000 annually, he said.
Built in 1936, the Schenectady Armory served for years as home base for the 105th Infantry Division. The division ceased to exist as a unit several years ago.
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