CORNING | An $8.6 million loan from USDA Rural Development has brought Corning Community College closer to completing the final phase of a five-year facilities plan.
The 25-year loan, along with funds from SUNY and fundraising by the CCC Development Foundation, will pay for major upgrades at the college, including renovations and an expansion of the Arthur A. Houghton Jr. Library, major changes at the Commons and work at the school's gymnasium. The total project cost is approximately $23 million.
CCC President Dr. Kate Douglas said the college was pleased to have the support of New York senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Charles Schumer, who pushed for approval of the loan.
"Supporting our rural community colleges with funding for new campus infrastructure is pivotal for those students, and for the communities in which they live because many of the local residents make use of campus resources," Schumer said in a statement.
"This is an important investment for Corning Community College and the surrounding area," Gillibrand added.
Douglas said she appreciates that federal officials at the USDA recognize the importance of CCC's role in the community.
"Their priorities are ... to ensure quality of life and economic prosperity in rural America," she said.
The Rural Development loan is the first borrowing CCC has done for a facilities project.
Work on the project will begin next year, with a groundbreaking for the library expansion planned in March 2014. Work on a complete renovation of the existing part of the library will begin during the summer of 2014.
The library project will focus on better access to electronic resources and other upgrades to modernize the 1960s-era facility.
The cost of the library work is about $11 million.
The other major part of next year's work will be at the Commons building. The project will move many college offices frequently visited by current or future students, like admissions, financial aid and academic advising, to the Commons building. The student lounges and dining facilities will remain at the Commons.
The project also includes improvements at the gymnasium, including dedicated locker rooms for visiting teams.
"We're looking forward to having a really exciting opening ... We are going to really transform those facilities," Douglas said.
The completion of the project, expected in January 2015, will mark the end of a five-year plan devised in 2007 that included more than $100 million in renovations and new construction.
The master plan included the school's Elmira campus, Academic Workforce and Development Center, renovations to the criminal justice building on Goff Road and the addition of a fitness center at the gymnasium.
Not everything was completed as originally envisioned. Douglas said a new fieldhouse at the Spencer Hill campus and air conditioning for buildings not equipped with it were among the items dropped. She said the college would be adding air conditioning to some buildings when other renovations were being done there.
Page 2 of 2 - The school will soon begin the process of devising a new five-year plan, something required of SUNY schools.
The plan must get preliminary approval from SUNY, then be approved by CCC's Board of Trustees and the Steuben, Chemung and Schuyler county legislatures before receiving final approval from SUNY.