New Haven (WTNH) - Construction on the new Gateway Community College in New Havenwas supposed to begin a year ago, but while groundbreaking keepsgetting delayed and delayed, the need for a new campus hasgrown.
"The school has gotten so big," Gateway Community CollegePresident Dr. Dorsey Kendrick said. "So it has required me addingmore sections at night, more sections on the weekend."
Kendrick has to expand class times because there are not enoughclassrooms, 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 Gatewaywould be moving downtown. Dr. Kendrick made clear how much the newspace was needed.
"It's going to mean an opportunity to have a state of the artfacility. It's going to mean that for once they'll have windows tolook 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 theMacy's building still had to be torn down and that building wasfull of asbestos.
"And it was the kind of asbestos that was sprayed on kind ofthin, so I think it was a struggle to get that down in a fasterfashion," said Kelly Murphy, New Haven Economic DevelopmentAdministrator.
It took crews in protective suits two years to get the asbestosout of the Macy's building so they could begin knocking it down.That put the project behind schedule, and the delay caused thestate to rethink the cost of the project. Then there were changesto the design of the college
"There was going to be a garage across the street, and now thegarage is actually wrapped within the project itself," Murphysaid.
The design is now finalized and the builder has been chosen.
"The next step is sometime between now and September, end ofSeptember, we will be breaking ground on our new comprehensivecommunity college in downtown New Haven," Kendrick said.
The college is scheduled to open in September of 2012. That'stwo years behind schedule, during which the city estimates studentswould have brought $26 million in spending to downtown businesses.Those businesses and the students are just hoping 2012 is areality.
"I tell everybody if we can just hold on, if we continue to dogood work, then success will certainly be ours," Kendrick said.
Everybody is hoping they only have to hang in there for anothertwo and a half years.
The timing is just so poor. In tough economic times, a lot ofpeople come back to college to learn new skills and make themselvesmore marketable, so enrollment has been growing while the collegehas been waiting to hear about its future.
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