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College to ask county for $5M

College to ask county for $5M

Schenectady County Community College officials plan to ask the county for $5 million to construct a

Schenectady County Community College officials plan to ask the county for $5 million to construct a walkway over Washington Avenue, upgrade campus facilities and acquire property for expansion.

The skywalk, which would cost $1,650,000, is a major component of the college’s plan to construct a 313-bed student housing facility at 117 Washington Ave. next to the armory building. The project has been on hold because of turmoil in the financial world. Columbia Developers and BBL Construction had hoped to break ground on the 105,000-square-foot, five-story building last fall, but have not borrowed the money because they were waiting for a lower interest rate on municipal bonds.

College officials had argued that the overhead walkway is necessary for the safety of students walking to and from the campus.

Ray Gillen, a member of the college’s board of trustees, said he believes some progress is being made on the housing issue.

“It’s still a tough financing market,” he said. “I think we’re very close with a couple banks to finance this week.”

College spokesman Heather Meaney said the other projects include heating and ventilation system upgrades and asbestos abatement at Elston Hall at a cost of $1,118,000, and campus rehabilitation and installation of a new sprinkler system for the Taylor Auditorium would cost $1 million. There is also another $1.2 million slotted for Elston Hall rehabilitation and acquisition of property for future program growth, but a specific location is not mentioned.

Pat Godlewski, dean of administration, said this funding could be used to purchase the apartment house across the college on State Street, the automobile repair shop on the corner of Washington Avenue and Water Street or any other piece of property the college would deem appropriate.

The SCCC trustees reviewed the 2010 capital budget request at its committee meeting on Monday and is expected to approve it next Monday. Then, it will be submitted to the County Legislature for its approval and then it goes to the SUNY board of trustees. If approved, funding would become available on Jan. 1.

Following the regular committees meeting, the trustees met in executive session to discuss a real estate matter.

The college needs more space because of a growing enrollment. College officials estimate a 10 percent increase in fall enrollment, which was 2,231 students this year.

SCCC plans to lease four classrooms — two containing about 25 to 28 seats and two with about 35 to 38 seats — to accommodate this growth. The modular classrooms would be placed between the Stockade and Begley buildings.

College officials have expressed interest in using the armory building. Its sports teams had used the building until last November when the state Division of Military and Naval Affairs announced that it would stop all community events at the building to save heating and lighting costs.

The National Guard had left the armory in August after the units were relocated around the Capital Region.

Office of General Services spokesman Brad Maione said the state is still conducting its review of the property in preparation for an auction. He said he did not know when that auction would take place.

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