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The Monroe Community College Board of Trustees on Saturday recommended establishing a permanent downtown campus on properties at State Street and Morrie Silver Way owned by Eastman Kodak Co.
The board made its recommendation to Monroe County Executive Maggie Brooks. As the college’s local sponsor, Monroe County owns property in trust for the college. Meanwhile, the city plans to continue its effort to push for the college at the Sibley Building site.
“Every proposal was approached with several goals in mind--to find a location that MCC could own, that offers room to grow and expand in the future, that stays within budget, and that allows the college’s faculty and staff to continue providing a quality education to students,” said MCC Chairman Kenneth Goode in a statement. "Ultimately, it became clear that the proposed Kodak site would be the best option for students, the future of the college and the taxpayers.”
The board's search for a downtown campus site began in 2009. The board considered nearly 20 sites.
The board’s recommendation meets criteria that students, faculty and staff have identified as important in the campus search, including accessible parking and public transportation, proximity to cultural offerings and neighborhood amenities, public safety, gathering areas and space to sustain a growing enrollment, MCC officials said.
MCC explained the downtown campus has seen its enrollment increase from 600 students to more than 2,900 in the past 16 years. Adding to the Brighton campus is unfeasible as it does not have the capacity to accommodate the relocation of the downtown campus, officials said. Four connected buildings at Kodak would provide a total of 560,000 square feet.
In addition, college officials said, MCC leases space in the Sibley Building. An extended stay in the building would be excessively costly to taxpayers.
“We are fulfilling the college’s vision: to give our incredibly talented students a campus that reflects their aspirations, goals and dreams,” MCC president Anne Kress said. ”A new downtown campus for our diverse and talented students is a wise investment for our community — one that will bring even greater benefits to the region.”
The role of purchasing the property lies with Monroe County. The first step will be a review of the environmental impact of the proposed relocation.
Rochester Mayor Thomas Richards on Saturday reiterated the city’s position that there needs to be a true downtown MCC campus and by far the best location for the students and for the community is the Sibley’s site.
"This is a decision that will result in the investment $72 million of state and local taxpayer dollars. I believe such a momentous decision needs community input and a full public airing of the possible sites," Richards said in a statement.
The mayor said that on Thursday he asked for the opportunity to bring in the developer of the Sibley’s proposal to address any concerns the board has.
"I am sorry for all involved, including the community, that we did not get that opportunity," he said. "I stated to President Kress that the City will continue on its present course, and that is to pursue the Sibley’s site for a true downtown MCC campus."
"One in four MCC students are city residents and funded by city taxpayers; and there is likely a greater concentration of city students at the downtown campus. Those students and all others will be better served by the RGRTA Transit Center across the street from Sibley’s; just as they will be better served by being within walking distance of the largest concentration of cultural, entertainment and commercial activity in our region"
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