Construction Costs Creating Challenges for Library at SMCC
When Phoenix voters approved Proposition 401 during the 2004 bond election, South Mountain Community College received more than $59 million to fund new locations, improvements and expansion of the 24th Street and Baseline Road campus.
A major project planned as part of the expansion is a 53,000-square-foot library/learning resource center. However, due to the rising price of building materials, a timeline for completion is becoming more difficult to determine.
“We’re in a holding pattern,” said Rob Price, director of marketing and public relations at South Mountain Community College. “The library project is still on the agenda, still definitely in the works, although how much money we’re going to have to work with is fluctuating.”
The funding problems aren’t just limited to projects at SMCC.
“This is district-wide … the longer we wait, the more expensive these things get,” he added.
Planned for the southeast corner of the campus, the library will serve students and the general public. The unique arrangement is similar to joint-use facilities currently operating at colleges in St. Petersburg, Fla.; Tomball, Texas; and San Jose, Calif.
A preliminary meeting was held in January to discuss the SMCC library project with representatives from those schools, as well as personnel from the City of Phoenix and Phoenix Public Library.
According to Price, the working session was designed to begin discussing details for the joint facility and how it could best serve the college and city. Because of the funding challenges, some revisions are being considered to maximize the money that is available, but specifics related to the library are not known.
Since January, Price said the library project has “gone back on the long-range planning table” while bond expenditures are monitored and timelines determined.
“Our goal really is to see this as a magnet for the community,” he stressed. “We want to use it as an opportunity to bring the community at large to the campus. In addition to being a resource for the students, it’s a way to make South Mountain Community College even more of a community asset.”
One preliminary deadline is establishing the educational specific requirements that the facility would need by the end of December 2007. That would leave design and construction as possibilities for 2008 and 2009.
In the mean time, SMCC officials are working with representatives from the Cesar Chavez Library to develop some joint programs.
Funding has also become an issue with opening SMCC’s Laveen campus. Late last year a site was finalized just south of Southern Avenue at 59th Avenue. But because of rising land prices throughout the South Mountain area, the cost for the property was much higher than what was originally anticipated in 2004. As a result, school officials are searching for funding to finance the site’s permanent facilities.