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TRUSTEES SUPPORT, BUT DON'T APPROVE, COMPROMISE PLAN ON ECC'S FUTURE

A plan to shape Erie Community College's future from County Executive Joel A. Giambra and ECC's president won modest support from a skeptical board of trustees Wednesday.

But ECC board members did not vote to approve the agreement at their meeting.

Instead, they want to make a few changes to the proposal to emphasize that college officials -- not the county executive -- will make any decisions about where to place academic programs or new buildings.

"The opportunities (found in the plan) should not be restricted. We can't go build something that doesn't make sense. . . . There's a lot of buildings out here that don't make sense," trustee Paul Stasiak said.

Wednesday's meeting came one week after Giambra and ECC President William J. Mariani reached general agreement on a compromise plan.

The agreement is similar to the plan approved in September by the board of trustees. That plan maintains ECC's campuses in Amherst and Orchard Park, but shifts programs for about 1,600 students and the jobs of 185 administrators from suburban campuses to the City Campus.

Giambra felt the trustees' plan contained too much new construction and kept too many programs in the suburbs.

After discussions with Mariani and Dr. James G. Corasanti, the trustee chairman, Giambra agreed to support a plan that moves about 60 additional students downtown and calls for building a dormitory and ice rink near City Campus instead of at South Campus.

Wednesday, trustees said the Giambra agreement is fundamentally similar to their plan.

However, they held off on approving the agreement.

Trustee Adam W. Perry, in particular, wants it understood that ECC could in the future decide to build a dormitory or an ice rink at the South Campus -- if demand warrants either one.

And several trustees questioned why the agreement said only a "minimal" investment would be made in the college's Vehicle Tech Center on the South Campus. Giambra ultimately wants to move the center to the City Campus, Mariani said, but trustees said such a move doesn't make sense.

Still, more than one trustee called the proposal a "framework" for the future detailed master plan to be drafted next year.

e-mail: swatson@buffnews.com

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