Glen Gabert, president of HCCC, said this is part of the college's $120 million upgrade of the facilities that will help the college prepare for a massive increase of students over the next decade.
The college, Gabert said, has already seen a large increase over the last decade, from slightly over 3,000 full credit-seeking and 500 non-credit students in 1992 to about 5,700 credit-seeking students and 6,500 non-credit students this year. Gabert said estimates over the upcoming decade show as many as 12,000 credit-seeking students attending the facility by 2010.
Gabert noted that 98 to 99 percent of the students who attend the college are from Hudson County. He said space is already in short supply and that the college had to turn away students this year for lack of classroom space.
This bond ordnance will appropriate a total of $15,200,000 for the acquisition and renovation of certain properties in Jersey City and Union City on the behalf of the Hudson County Community College.
Half of this will be paid through state grants. The county has been notified by the state of New Jersey that it can expect $7,500,000 in Chapter 12 funding, which the county will match. The county will issue the bonds for total amount that the state will and reimburse the county board's share of the debt service.
With this money, the county college intends to purchase eight properties in Union City for expansion of its campus there. It also intends to purchase and renovate numerous sites in Jersey City.
The college will purchase and renovate a building at 70 Sip Ave. in Jersey City, currently being used as Independence Bank. The money will also go toward the renovation of classroom space at 25 Pathside and 162 Sip Ave. in Jersey City. The college will purchase and demolish a building at 171-173 Newkirk St. where it will construct a new Culinary Arts Building. The college also intends to take over existing private parking areas on Jones Street and Enos Place in Jersey City. They also plan to use funds to purchase property on Academy Street for a day care facility, and to extend an existing parking at a lot on Bergen Avenue.
The project has the endorsement of The Hudson County Board of School Estimate that oversees the college's operations.
Gabert said the college is expanding its culinary arts program to include a masters program, that - when combined with courses offered by the Hudson County Schools of Technology - would provide a culinary arts program from high school through to a master's degree.
The College's culinary program has been amazingly successful, Gabert said, noting that the college places 100 percent of its students in some form of food-related activity.
"This has created something of an unusual situation," Gabert said. "Students are getting job offers even before they finish the program, and it is difficult for us to get them to complete their education before taking on a job."
The project would also form the basis for restoring of Journal Square by renovating existing buildings and providing the area with a population of students, which would attract new businesses. The college already has forged an agreement with a college textbook store that will open up a retail store in one of the buildings in Journal Square, selling both texts as well as more commercial books.
Freeholder Bill O'Dea asked if the college would be providing studies in hotel management, noting that Hudson County and the surrounding areas seem to be a center of hotel activity, yet lack adequate training for people to work in such places. Gabert said part of the new programs would definitely address this need.
Expanding the UC/WNY campus
One of the more significant elements of this plan will be the expansion of the North Hudson Campus located on the Union City-West New York border. With an elevator constructed to bring people up the side of the Palisades from a light rail stop, students from as far south as Bayonne should be able to access the facilities there.
Gabert said this aspect of the project had the full cooperation of the Union City Board of Education as well as the staunch support of Union City Mayor and Freeholder Brian Stack.
Freeholder Maurice Fitzgibbons credited Stack and former County Administrator Abe Antun with helping make this aspect of the project a reality.
"This was Brian's dream," Fitzgibbons said. "And this gives the light rail a destination in North Hudson."
Fitzgibbons suggested that the college pick up on a theme started by Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken in helping to recognize the historic and continued importance of Hudson County in the embroidery industry. He suggested that the college consider emphasizing design and fashion.
Gabert, in thanking the freeholders, noted that the board had maintained support for the college even during economic hard times, making it the envy of county colleges throughout the state.