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NCCC campus master plan ready

July 1, 2010
By NATHAN BROWN, Enterprise Staff Writer

SARANAC LAKE - North Country Community College officials say Essex and Franklin counties should approve the proposed $65 million overhaul of the Saranac Lake campus by September to guarantee funding for the project in 2011.

NCCC President Carol Brown told officials from both of the college's sponsor counties Wednesday morning that the funding is available now, despite the state's fiscal problems, but there is no guarantee it still will be in a year.

Tenee Rehm Casaccio and George R. Green, with JMZ Architects and Planners PC, unveiled their two-phase master plan for the renovation at the meeting in the Harrietstown Town Hall board room.

Phase 1 would be broken into two steps. The first, which is projected to cost $34.3 million, would involve building a new allied health building, as well as a student commons building that would also house event space and a bookstore, and a building with the dining room on the first floor and a learning commons area on the second, as well as landscaping, a revamped campus entrance facing Winona Avenue and expanded parking.

Phase 1B, which would cost $15.2 million, would include new classroom areas and upgrades to existing ones as well as the creation of a campus green in the center of the campus, roughly where the library is now.

The second phase, which would cost $15.55 million, includes renovation of Hodson Hall and the Sparks Athletic Center as well as landscaping.

The changes would almost double the amount of building space the college has, according to a slide show JMZ showed, increasing it from 82,442 square feet to 148,212. It would allow classes that are taught off campus now, such as art, to be moved on campus. The plan would increase space and provide room for future enrollment, which is projected to grow, and it takes better advantage of the college's hilly terrain, Casaccio said.

Casaccio and Green went over old studies and surveys and talked to almost all of the college's employees and many of its students in drafting the plan.

The new look would give the campus a clearer sense of identity, Casaccio said, and would also give visitors a better impression. The first thing many visitors see now is Hodson Hall, an old building that used to be Saranac Lake General Hospital.

"It does not give the impression that the college is proud of their facilities," Casaccio said.

Also, many of the current classrooms aren't suited for their use, Casaccio said - not enough room, heating and air-conditioning issues, and old-fashioned lecture halls whose layout doesn't work with modern teaching styles. Brown said the renovation could lead to increased enrollment. She said this happened at Dallas County Community College in Texas after a similar project while she was president there.

The plan is for the counties to appropriate their share of the project in 2011 and for construction on phase one to start that fall. The counties each pay 25 percent of the cost, with the state paying the other half. The State University of New York Board of Trustees needs to approve the plan after the counties.

The college still needs to determine what, if any, Adirondack Park Agency permitting requirements there might be for the project. The land the campus is on is classified as "hamlet," the APA's least restrictive land-use classification, along with the rest of the village of Saranac Lake and the surrounding area.


Contact Nathan Brown at 891-2600 ext. 26 or



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