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Franklin County OKs NCCC upgrades

September 3, 2016
By CHRIS KNIGHT - For the News ( , Lake Placid News

MALONE - North Country Community College plans to use chargeback revenue and state funds to pay for $429,000 in critical maintenance and infrastructure work on its Saranac Lake campus.

Franklin County legislators signed off on the plan at their meeting Thursday, Sept. 1 in Malone, approving a resolution authorizing the college to move ahead with the capital project and seek reimbursement from the state Dormitory Authority.


Article Photos

North Country Community College campus, Saranac Lake
(News photo — Peter Crowley)

The money

North Country President Steve Tyrell stressed that there are no county funds involved in the project. He said half of the money, or about $214,000, will come from capital chargebacks, or funds the college gets when students from other counties attend North Country. The college collects about $70,000 a year in capital chargebacks from other counties, he said.

The other half of the money would come from the state.

"We're taking a number of years of capital chargeback dollars we've collected from other counties, and we're asking the state to match it dollar for dollar," Tyrell told the News.


The projects

The college will use the money to install a backup generator, and do associated electrical work, for its Saranac Lake facilities. A new switchgear station, which controls how power is distributed across campus, will also be installed.

Tyrell said these projects will remedy electrical problems last year on the Saranac Lake campus that forced the college to cancel several days of classes.

The funds will also pay for a new furnace system that's already been installed at the Sparks Athletic Complex. Furnace problems there last year led to the closure of the college's pool for a period of time.

New carpeting and a new air ventilation and circulation system are planned in Hodson Hall, the north wing of which was shut down in mid-February after the college received reports of an "unusual odor" in that part of the building.

"We never knew what the problem was there, but we're trying to improve the air flow in that area," Tyrell said.


County support

There was little discussion of the plan during the Sept. 1 meeting of the Franklin County Legislature. Legislator Paul Maroun said the project is "not a major expense" and is "good for the south end" of the county.

The resolution was approved on a 6-0 vote. Legislator Barbara Rice recused herself because her family's business, Rice Furniture, bid on and was awarded the carpeting contract.

Essex County, the college's other co-sponsor, adopted a similar resolution last month.


Bigger plans

Last year, the college drafted a plan for $9 million in new construction, maintenance and equipment projects at its Saranac Lake campus, but the plan was shelved amid unrest between college leaders and North Country's faculty and staff. Electrical upgrades, renovations to Hodson Hall, a new science lab and nursing building, and a proposed Welcome Center off of Lake Flower Avenue were among the projects on the list.

Tyrell noted that the generator project was also part of the original $9 million plan. He said this week that the other projects on that list are still being evaluated.

"We're working on some efforts right now so that we can bring those back to the counties for further consideration," Tyrell said. "We can't afford to shelve capital improvements at the Saranac Lake campus."

Is the Welcome Center still on the radar?

"They have to figure out what they want to do next on that particular project," Tyrell said. "The faculty felt pretty strongly that we should focus on what we have now versus anything new, including the Welcome Center. I think that's on the back burner right now."

The Welcome Center would be located on land on Lake Flower Avenue and Colony Court, owned by the North Country Community College Foundation.



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