UAlbany seeking money for improvements
It's a request for nearly $300 million and as our Vince Gallagher explains, for one local campus, it's just the beginning.
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ALBANY, N.Y. -- At first glance, everything looks fine at the University at Albany campus, but most of the facilities are in need of repair and upgrade.
"Windows continue to leak, our heating and cooling systems continue to fail and many of our classrooms still need to be modernized," said UAlbany President Dr. Robert Jones.
Enter the SUNY Capital Plan request. The program calls for $293 million over the next five years for improvements, renovations and upgrades to the University's campus, much of which is now more than 50 years old.
"It's a great thing 50 years ago when the state made a tremendous investment on this campus. The not so great thing is that it was 50 years ago and like anything else when things get older, they need more maintenance, they need more investment, they need more work," said Mike Elmendorf, NYS Associated General Contractors CEO.
Jones said, "It's really gotten to that state of repair in many places and that’ss why I was pleased to see through the last budget process we're starting to address those issues.”
Many Capital Region leaders were on hand to support the plan and the needed revenue
"And if we make our voices louder and make our message clear of the importance of the dollars now, not later, because the dollars now will save dollars,” said State Senator Neil Breslin.
But even if the campus receives the $293 million from the state, it doesn't balance the entire budget.
"Our critical maintenance and upgrade backlog is estimated to be $1.2 billion and that's billion with a b," Jones said.
So the other plan here is to keep things consistent.
Jones said, "The last five years have been absolutely critical and we do need that regular level of investment to stay on top of things.”
If the entire request amount isn't available, they say they'll still take what they can get.
Jones said, "If the governor and the legislator can't find $293 million, we certainly would expect some level of investment to allow us to continue the very valuable work we know we need to address."
In addition to upgrading the campus, officials say this improvement project would provide more than 2,500 jobs over the next five years.