Schenectady County Community College students now have more room to relax at Center City.
College officials recently opened a new lounge as part of an additional 11,000 square feet of space they are leasing at the downtown facility at 433 State St. The new space also includes classrooms, faculty offices and work space.
“I think it’s pretty nice, all the new classes they’ve got over here. There’s more room for students to sit down during free time and study and do what they have to do on the computer,” said emergency management student Robert Cataldo of Niskayuna.
SCCC President Quintin Bullock and board of trustees President Denise Murphy McGraw took a tour of the space Wednesday afternoon.
Since 2011, the college has leased 20,000 square feet of space, with eight classrooms, including two mock hospital rooms with equipment as part of its eight-week certified nursing assistant class.
More than 100 sections of classes are being taught Monday through Saturday at Center City, compared with 1,000 sections on the main Washington Avenue campus, according to Bullock. Among the subjects being taught downtown are English, math, business, accounting, criminal justice, fire science, computer technology, foreign languages, sign language, psychology and sociology.
McGraw said the college needed to lease additional space as the number of students increased.
“They really needed more space than just that common area,” she said. “It’s a place to meet, work on projects, do their own work.”
The new space contains four classrooms, two of which each have 24 mobile computers. All the classrooms are equipped with smartboards and LCD projection screens. There are also four administrative offices, a conference room and WiFi and wired Internet access.
The lounge opens up to a wraparound porch that faces Proctors and Jay Street at different points.
“It’s what a community college should be — in the middle of the community,” McGraw said.
Azeema Amzad of Schenectady, a paralegal student, was doing some studying in the lounge Wednesday.
“It’s comfortable and nice and quiet,” she said.
The renovation expenses are included in SCCC’s five-year, $197,000 lease of the 11,000-square-foot space, according to Bullock. SCCC is paying $361,550 for the original 20,000 square feet of space. That works out to about $17.75 per year per square foot.
The space has a faculty office with 12 work stations and space for academic advising, counseling and private conversations. Faculty enjoy working at Center City, according to McGraw.
“When this all started, they weren’t sure they wanted to be down here,” she said. “Then, they got here and said, ‘We want our offices here.’ ”
Criminal justice professor Harry Buffardi has been teaching at Center City for 18 months. He said the space is attractive, functional and equipped with the latest technology.
“I think it’s wonderful. I feel especially important, and I know the students feel the same way,” he said.
It is a particularly good location because it is close to both the Schenectady Police Department and Schenectady County Sheriff’s Office, allowing criminal justice students to have access to people there.
Students can park in the garage behind Villa Italia or the parking lot behind the YMCA.
Air traffic control and human services student Christopher Suzanne of Niskayuna said the new space looks nice — despite the hassle of having to travel back and forth from the main campus. It almost looks like something a four-year SUNY college would have, he said.
“You wouldn’t think this is Schenectady County Community College,” she said.
Schenectady County Legislature Chairwoman Judy Dagostino said SCCC’s Center City space not only will enhance opportunities for young people and those seeking retraining, but also bring attention to downtown.
“It brings to downtown more foot traffic, and that’s also exciting, too. It also shows people how much our downtown has been rejuvenated ,with the restaurants, Proctors and our new facilities that are available,” she said.
SCCC is not done expanding. The college is about to award a contract to fix the roof of a building at 201 State St. that was donated to the college by the Kindl family. That facility will house the college’s workforce development programs, which includes noncredit classes and worker training and GED preparation programs.
College officials have hired a consultant to put together a facilities master plan and are about to roll out new programs in coming weeks.