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NCCC ready for $25 million construction project

LOCKPORT – Niagara County is poised to borrow $10 million toward a $25 million construction project to begin this summer at Niagara County Community College.

The Learning Commons project calls for modernizing the NCCC library and building a roof with skylights over an adjoining courtyard, producing an atrium. The library would be accessible from the commons, as would new computer work stations and remodeled classrooms in the Humanities Building, NCCC President James P. Klyczek said Thursday.

The County Legislature is expected to vote Tuesday on the $10 million bond issue, which was approved by the Legislature’s Administration Committee Wednesday night. The Legislature committed the county to making this investment last June.

The project would add 11,000 square feet of usable space to the center of the Sanborn campus, Klyczek said. Another 100,000 square feet is to be renovated.

“Most of this project, rather than enlarging the library, is modernizing a 45-year-old building,” he said.

Twelve existing classrooms nearby, each with a current capacity of 25 to 30 students, would be remodeled into eight larger ones.

The state appropriated $12.5 million last year to pay half of the cost of the Learning Commons project, but the county was told to pay the other half. The County Legislature directed the college to raise $2.5 million toward the local share, a job which was assigned to the NCCC Foundation.

“We’re about halfway there,” Klyczek said.

During the construction project, which is to begin in June or July, the library will be closed, and its materials are being moved for the 2016-17 school year into what is now a second-floor cafeteria in the student center in Building G. Closing that cafeteria is no big deal, Klyczek said. “We’ve got three other dining spaces on campus,” he commented.

The target date for completion of the work is September 2017, although Klyczek said contingency planning is under way in case the project runs as late as January 2018. The college has yet to seek construction bids.

County Treasurer Kyle R. Andrews said the county’s bonds will mature in 20 years. As for the interest rate, he said, “We’re looking at 2.8 percent to 3 percent, based on the latest figures from our financial analyst and the condition of the market.”

Andrews estimated the county will have to pay back about $661,000 a year for 20 years to the investors who buy the bonds.