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Legislators approve up to $7 million in county funds for JCC learning center and library

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The Jefferson County Board of Legislators passed a resolution Tuesday to spend up to $7 million in county funds as part of a $14 million plan to build a study center and to renovate the library at Jefferson Community College.

According to plans drawn up in 2008, the Collaborative Learning Center, as the new building is called in the resolution, would be a 41,000-square-foot facility where students would have access to library materials, computers, integrated technology such as Smartboards, counseling, tutoring and learning skills support, according to JCC President Carole A. McCoy.

The center is projected to cost $12.5 million. The remainder of the funds, $1.5 million, would go toward renovating the college’s Melvil Dewey Library Building, adding classrooms and additional office space, Mrs. McCoy said.

The resolution, which was unanimously passed without discussion Tuesday night at the legislators’ meeting, will be sent to the State University of New York Construction Fund in Albany for evaluation.

The merits of the project will be measured against other construction proposals at community colleges throughout the state, according to County Administrator Robert F. Hagemann III.

If the state approves the project, the county probably would borrow the $7 million over a period to be determined, Mr. Hagemann said, noting that the county typically structures debt over 15-year periods.

Initially, a $1 million bond may be issued to provide for site planning and survey expenses, Mr. Hagemann said.

The proposed construction is part of the Facilities Master Plan adopted by the college’s Board of Trustees in 2008. It is the third major construction project called for in the plan.

Of the first two, one is under construction: In June, the board approved the issuance of up to $25 million in tax-exempt revenue bonds to help finance a 90,000-square-foot dormitory that will house 298 students at 1220 Coffeen St.

The dorm project is being funded by the college’s Faculty Student Association, not by the county, Mrs. McCoy said. It is estimated to cost $17.5 million.

Approval for the bond issue was required because construction involved county land, she said.

Ground was broken on the project in mid-June. A webcam of the construction’s progress can be viewed at http://wdt.me/swtwUn.

The second project, a multipurpose facility that began as a higher-education center, field house and events center, is still being developed.

“I would love to see that become a reality,” Mrs. McCoy said. “But that one’s still ... we’re still working on it.”

Jefferson Community College, which led community colleges in the state this year with the highest six-year graduation rate, welcomed a record-breaking number of students to campus in the fall semester.

4,000 students signed up for classes, a 1.74 percent increase over the same time last year.

Study space has become an issue as enrollment has increased, Mrs. McCoy said.

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