Recession Slows Ccc Construction

July 10, 1991|By Greg Tasker | Greg Tasker,Staff writer

WESTMINSTER — Count the long-range building plan of Carroll Community College among the victims of the recession.

CCC officials are moving ahead with construction of a multipurpose building at the Washington Road campus but have delayed -- at least until next fiscal year -- adding moreathletic fields, a cafeteria and staff parking lot.

Also, a physical education building, initially slated to be designed this year, has been pushed back until fiscal 1993. Plans for a fine and performing arts center and a library have been postponed indefinitely. Design of those two projects was slated to begin within the next few years.

Even so, Director of Administration Alan M. Schuman counts CCC among the lucky because the County Commissioners are picking up the tab for the $3.1 million multipurpose building.

Initially, the state was expected to pay design costs and half of the construction. When the recession hit, however, CCC was dropped from the state's priority list.

"The county stepped in and allowed us to realign our priorities," Schuman said. "The money was already there. It'snot new money. We've postponed other projects so we could move aheadwith this."

To move ahead with the project, Schuman said officials scaled down initial infrastructure -- heating and cooling -- and duplicated the design of an existing small wing off the main building.

"The remaining question is the price tag," he said. "The project needs to come in at less than $2.4 million."

Included in the $3.1 million price tag are design costs and furnishings for the 21,000-square-foot building, which will consist of six new classrooms, two computer labs, a large lecture room that can seat 100 people, office spacefor 23 faculty members, and conference rooms.

Schuman said CCC officials hope that bids, expected to be sought in September, will comein low. If all goes well, construction on the two-story building will begin in mid-November. Completion is expected within one year.

"We hope to begin occupying the space next fall and use the full spacein spring 1993," he said.

Helping the commissioners realize the need for the additional space, Schuman said, were projections that CCCwill be at capacity by the end of 1993.

"I think the project is quite important," Commissioner Elmer Lippy said. "(Our funding) testifies to how important the college is. We're putting our money up front, knowing full well we won't get any back."

He said CCC's budget, like other county agencies, was "hit as hard as could be expected andstill be viable." He said the commissioners want to continue to improve the college but will have to work within budget constraints.

"We're certainly not out of the woods as far as fiscal difficulties are concerned," Lippy said. "The outlook for this year is dismal and 1993 is dismal too. We certainly want to continue what has been a fine institution."

The building delays, however, come at a time when the college, which opened its new campus last fall, is experiencing record growth. Enrollment -- about 2,500 full- and part-time students --is expected to increase by 10 percent this fall.

And the delays, Schuman said, could have an impact on the price tag of the long-rangebuilding program and on student enrollment. The current cost estimate, including the existing campus, is $48.6 million.

"I think it's safe to say that any time a building project gets held back, costs goup because of inflation," Schuman said.

The cost of the campus has caused some controversy. Initially, the price tag was set at $14.7 million. However, Schuman said that estimate was too low because it didn't include the cost of equipment, such as computers, and only accounted for minimum-size requirements for buildings.

Although the scope of the building project hasn't changed, some of the buildings arelarger than initially planned. In addition, inflation, which was significant in the 1980s, added to the cost.

Students have not yet felt the impact of the construction delays.

"That hasn't been the case yet," Schuman said. "But each additional building brings somethingto the campus. Without the multipurpose building, we would not have additional lab classes. Without that building, some students would have to continue going to Catonsville (Community College) for some science courses."

Additionally, he said, part of the college experience for many students includes the use of physical education and fine and performing arts centers.

"They are part of the elements of an overall liberal arts education," he said. "We feel you need all the elements to be a complete student."

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