FMCC eyes projects for growing student population

A 35 percent boost in enrollment over the past five years is prompting the need for upgrades in the

When another 144 housing units open up at Fulton-Montgomery Community College in fall 2012, the additional students living on campus could be facing a dilemma: Where are they going eat?

A 35 percent boost in enrollment over the past five years is prompting the need for upgrades in the cafeteria and other areas, and college officials are proposing roughly $2.75 million in work it hopes can be finished by the fall of next year.

The Montgomery County Board of Supervisors next month will consider a request for $2.275 million in work for upgrades to the dining room, another gym and a new meeting spot for students to be called “Raider’s Cove.” A similar request is before the Fulton County supervisors. Both counties have to approve the project but will not have to contribute toward its cost.

The college will have to raise half of the money and request the other half of the project’s total cost from the SUNY system.

Another $476,000 would be directed toward athletics, with improvements aimed at the athletic field.

College President Dustin Swanger said there were about 2,100 students at the rural community college when he arrived in 2006; now, there are 2,850.

“With expanded student housing, we need to expand our capacity in the dining room,” Swanger said.

The current housing project will double the number of students living on campus.

Swanger said preliminary plans call for shifting seating so the cafeteria can handle more students and completely renovating the service area to make it easier and quicker to get students through the food lines.

“The flow-through right now just isn’t working, and we’re going to double people on the meal plan,” he said.

The design would follow that of the college’s new cafe, Books & Bytes, near the library.

“It is a hot spot on campus for students and faculty. It’s a really attractive spot, and we want to do that in the cafeteria, too,” Swanger said.

Part of the overall plan will make use of the large amount of space that’s currently taken up by the college’s non-working swimming pool.

The pool leaks and, because of cost, isn’t going to be fixed. Estimates in 2008 suggested that repairs would cost roughly $500,000.

“It does not make sense for us to try and repair the pool, and that’s a lot of space that’s just sitting there empty,” Swanger said.

Plans call for turning the roughly 6,600 square feet of space into a small gymnasium for physical education classes and developing the Raider’s Cove meeting and gathering spot to be open in the later afternoons and evening.

Raider’s Cove would include a small performance stage, flat-panel TVs, a pool table and games.

Currently, there isn’t a lot for students to do on campus.

“That’s the issue we’re trying to address. We’re going to double our student housing, and what do students do here in rural Fulton and Montgomery counties when they’re not in classes?” Swanger said.

If the project is approved, the athletic fields would get some attention, too, including adding a scoreboard.

“We’re going to try and upgrade to more of a collegial look to our athletic facilities,” Swanger said.

The plan calls for newer bleachers, electronic scoreboards for baseball, softball and soccer and new fencing.

Technology upgrades, which would focus on the college’s Management Information System and improve media communication and biology programs, are also planned.

Swanger said fundraising will be required to come up with some of the money. The FM Foundation is promising $197,000 toward the effort, and the Fulmont College Association is also pledging money toward the effort.

Swanger said the goal is to get approvals, firm up design plans and have the work finished in time for the fall 2012 opening of the additional student housing units.

Categories: Schenectady County

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