Updated: Tuesday, 31 Mar 2009, 7:10 AM EDT
Published : Tuesday, 31 Mar 2009, 6:18 AM EDT
New Haven (WTNH) - Construction on the new Gateway Community College in New Haven was supposed to begin a year ago, but while groundbreaking keeps getting delayed and delayed, the need for a new campus has grown.
"The school has gotten so big," Gateway Community College President Dr. Dorsey Kendrick said. "So it has required me adding more sections at night, more sections on the weekend."
Kendrick has to expand class times because there are not enough classrooms, something she's been trying to fix for a long time.
"For a long time, as you know," Kendrick said laughing.
In February, 2005, New Haven officially announced that Gateway would be moving downtown. Dr. Kendrick made clear how much the new space was needed.
"It's going to mean an opportunity to have a state of the art facility. It's going to mean that for once they'll have windows to look out of," Kendrick said that day in '05.
The plan then was construction would begin by spring of 2008, with the college projected to open in 2010. The problem was the Macy's building still had to be torn down and that building was full of asbestos.
"And it was the kind of asbestos that was sprayed on kind of thin, so I think it was a struggle to get that down in a faster fashion," said Kelly Murphy, New Haven Economic Development Administrator.
It took crews in protective suits two years to get the asbestos out of the Macy's building so they could begin knocking it down. That put the project behind schedule, and the delay caused the state to rethink the cost of the project. Then there were changes to the design of the college
"There was going to be a garage across the street, and now the garage is actually wrapped within the project itself," Murphy said.
The design is now finalized and the builder has been chosen.
"The next step is sometime between now and September, end of September, we will be breaking ground on our new comprehensive community college in downtown New Haven," Kendrick said.
The college is scheduled to open in September of 2012. That's two years behind schedule, during which the city estimates students would have brought $26 million in spending to downtown businesses. Those businesses and the students are just hoping 2012 is a reality.
"I tell everybody if we can just hold on, if we continue to do good work, then success will certainly be ours," Kendrick said.
Everybody is hoping they only have to hang in there for another two and a half years.
The timing is just so poor. In tough economic times, a lot of people come back to college to learn new skills and make themselves more marketable, so enrollment has been growing while the college has been waiting to hear about its future.