A public meeting was held at Brighton Town Hall Wednesday to discuss the College's petition for a sewer district extension. No vote was taken as the Town Board considers what to do.
Empire State College's Director of Comunications David Henahan said the school has outgrown its current location on Winton Road in Irondequoit. The proposed Genesee Valley Center in Brighton would be 33,000 square feet, located across the street from the TOPS Plaza. "This is to accomodate what it is that we do to help both attract and retain more students and advance public higher education here in Brighton and throughout the state," said Henahan.
The college looked at 77 properties before spend $850,000 for the 11 acre parcel a year ago. Brighton Town Supervisor Bill Moehle said a decision to grant the sewer extension must be weighed carefully. "That's really what we're looking at tonight," he said. "Is this project, is this sewer district extension really in the public interest?"
Moehle wants the college, with is tax exempt as a public institution, to build in Brighton, but doesn't want to lose 11 acres off the tax roll. He suggested state-owned land around the corner on Westfall Road, where the Office for People With Developmental Disabilities is located, would be preferable. Henahan said the college explored that option. "The parcel is still being used, and even if it weren't all 63 acres would be put into surplus all at once and that's simply just not something suitable for us," he said.
Local Empire State College advocates encouraged the Town Board to consider the merits of the South Clinton location. "It's worth it to us because it's within walking distance to all the services that the students, faculty and administrators need," said Empire State College professor Don Milton.
The proposed facility would employ 71 temporary construction workers and up to 83 new faculty members. Henahan said almost seven acres of undeveloped land could be sold for taxable development in the sewer extension is approved. Moehle is trying to keep an open mind. "In a year of ownership the things that they say they might do, none of that has as yet happened," he said.
Another sticking point is payment for public services like police and EMS. The college wants a vote on the sewer district extension soon to accomodate a planned 2014 opening.