BY JEREMY MOULE
Last night the County Legislature passed a plan for construction and infrastructure projects for 2013-2018. The Capital Improvement Program includes Monroe Community College’s proposed new downtown campus.
The plan, which doesn’t allocate any funding, calls for $32.5 million in county funds for the downtown campus. College officials want to move the Damon City Campus from the Sibley building on East Main Street to buildings on the Kodak campus on State Street. The CIP alludes to the Kodak site, but doesn’t mention it by name.
In December, the Legislature will vote on borrowing to fund the 2013 projects. Two-thirds of the Legislature – 20 legislators – will have to approve the bonding.
The Legislature’s 18 Republicans voted for the CIP and the 11 Democrats voted against it, which shouldn’t come as a surprise. Democrats have said they support Mayor Tom Richards, who wants to keep the campus at the Sibley building. But they also say they haven’t ruled out support of the Kodak site and that they want a public debate of the options by the Legislature. Democrats wanted the section of the CIP that dealt with the new downtown campus to use site-neutral language.
Democratic Legislator Vinnie Esposito introduced an amendment to change the language, but Republicans voted it down. Esposito said that the Legislature and the public haven’t had a chance to express their opinion on the site. And, he said, the Legislature should have a more exhaustive discussion about where the campus should be.
Before the vote, several speakers weighed in on the downtown campus. Bret Garwood, the city’s director of business and housing development, urged the Legislature to consider keeping the campus at Sibley. And Karen Morris, a business law professor at MCC, spoke in favor of the Kodak site, as did a student government representative. (Morris is also an elected Brighton town justice and a Democrat.)