FMCC plans $12 million development

JOHNSTOWN – Fulton-Montgomery Community College is planning a roughly $12 million development on about 145 acres adjacent to the college.

The project will address the increased need for more campus housing, spur economic development and meet social and cultural needs of the community, college President Dustin Swanger said.

Swanger provided few details about the project, but the college will provide more information during an event scheduled for Thursday.

“There will be a presentation to the Board of Trustees regarding a plan that will address these issues that I think the community will find very exciting,” Swanger said. “It’s going to provide a social venue that is targeted toward a contemporary and progressive market.”

He said the project will meet living and social needs of students on campus and adults living in local communities.

Swanger said the FM?Foundation previously acquired about 145 acres across Bendicks Corner Road from the college. The future development, which has yet to be named, will be within the developable area of the acreage, which spans from Route 67 to the Campus View student housing.

“We were able to capture that land and we’ve evolved into a much more residential campus than we have been the last 50 years,” Swanger said. “Even though the housing was there, we pretended it wasn’t.”

The college was built on the border of Fulton and Montgomery counties in a rural area, and neither county can claim exclusive ownership.

However, Swanger said, students living on campus often don’t have the transportation to reach the local communities.

“[The location] demonstrated a partnership between the two counties, but it also put us in the middle of a corn field,” Swanger said. “When you are here, you can feel very isolated. If you are living here, you can really feel isolated.”

Swanger said neither Fulton nor Montgomery counties will have to provide any money for the project.

Without providing details, Swanger said the project will offer housing options.

With more students attending FMCC from outside the area and student housing next to the campus already full, Swanger announced this year the college completed a deal with Microtel Inn and Suites to provide additional space to residential students for the 2013-14 academic year.

The 294 beds at the Campus View complex already are filled during most semesters. Often, college officials said, 100 students are on a waiting list. The Microtel agreement provided an additional 50 beds on the third floor of the hotel, serving as an international hall for the school year, officials said.

“We expanded housing but still had about 100 people still on the waiting list,” Swanger said. “We know housing is an issue we have to address. We also know we have to provide more activity for the students and community.”

The project will address the living and social needs of students living on campus and those seeking something to do in the surrounding counties, said Swanger, who will provide information at Thursday’s event about how the project will address those needs.

“We know the region needs to do better with options that appeal to younger folks if we want to keep them here or attract them to our area,” Swanger said. “There doesn’t seem to be a lot of social life and there doesn’t seem to be any opportunity for a contemporary style of living.”

The project will address economic development as well, Swanger said.

Swanger said many areas have embraced the college atmosphere, which he says provides economic success for those areas.

“It creates an environment that is synergistic and draws young people to be together and really encourages open and free thinking that is exciting for all involved,” Swanger said. “We have an opportunity to create that.”

Swanger said FM has looked at the development around large colleges across the state and used ideas they saw to help develop the plans for the FM project.

Board of Trustees Chairman Jim Landrio said Thursday’s announcement will involve taking care of many needs, including serving more students, adding to the development of the region, and providing a new venue for the community.

“As FM continues to grow and gain a reputation as a college of choice, it is time for us to consider how we take FM to the next level,” Landrio said in a “media invite.

“At this meeting, we will enjoy a presentation by the Foundation of FM chair, Mr. Del Salmon, the supervisor of the town of Amsterdam, Mr. Tom DiMezza, and an area architect, Mr. Bob Joy from JMZ. We believe that this presentation will be exciting news for the future of our college and community,” Landrio said.