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Vote could decide future of M.C.C.'s downtown location

Posted at: 12/09/2012 11:46 PM
By: Ray Levato

An important vote is set for Tuesday that could decide where the downtown campus for the Monroe Community College is located.

M.C.C. and county republicans favor the Kodak location on State Street, but they'll need at least two votes from democrats who want to keep the downtown campus in the Sibley Building. Rochester Mayor Tom Richards agreed not to stand in the way of the first round of funding for the $72-million project.

Mayor Richards signed off to the county's list of capital projects including a new downtown M.C.C campus because language specifically identifying the Kodak site was removed. And he said Democratic lawmakers can vote their conscience on the funding. However, Monroe County Executive Maggie Brooks says the mayor's agreement moves the M.C.C. project forward to a likely "yes" vote at Tuesday's county legislature meeting.

In a taping of Rochester in Focus for Sunday morning, M.C.C. President Dr. Anne Kress outlined the benefits of the Kodak buildings over the Sibley building.

"Number one among the site criteria was the ability to build a true college campus for our downtown students," said Kress. "Not a couple of floors in a building, not part of a building somewhere, but really give our students that full college experience. That, plus the reduced cost of the Kodak location really pushed it over the top."

A student survey showed overwhelming support for moving to the Kodak site.

"Oh my goodness. It's bigger, it's brighter. It's very accessible," said M.C.C. student Veronica Alexander. "A lot of people say it's not downtown, but it is. If you ask city residents, it is downtown. We're comfortable with that location. I've asked several students how they feel about it. They like the move. They like the idea of having bigger classrooms."

Mayor Richards denies he favors the Sibley location because it would prop up the future of Sibley and it new owner, the Winn Companies of Boston.

"Downtown is different than it was a year ago, let alone 10 years ago when M.C.C first went down there. So that's what we have to think about. And by the way, the Kodak site is very different. When the decision to go there was made, Kodak was a viable entity and now it's bankrupt," said Mayor Richards.