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State Budget Includes $39M for Construction, Renovation at SUNY-ESF

Improvements include a new gateway, academic research buildings; rehabilitation of historic carriage house at the Adirondack Ecological Center.

SYRACUSE — The SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF) will receive some $39 million for improvements at the main campus in Syracuse and at two of the college's facilities in the Adirondacks, under the terms of the recently approved New York state budget.

The bulk of the funds, more than $30 million, will support strategic initiatives at the college. Specifically, the budget includes $22 million for the design and construction of a new gateway building on the Syracuse campus; $6 million for a new academic research building on the main campus; $2.5 million for the rehabilitation of a historic stone carriage house at the college's Adirondack Ecological Center (AEC) in Newcomb, in the central Adirondacks; and $250,000 for a study and preliminary design for a recreational facility for students at The Ranger School in Wanakena, in the northwestern Adirondacks.

In addition, the budget includes $8.5 million for rehabilitation of existing buildings.

"This is part of what we project will be a $150 million campus improvement program over the next 10 to 15 years," said ESF President Cornelius B. Murphy, Jr.

He said the most recent appropriations are added to previous budget items that supplied about $44 million to the college for future construction and rehabilitation.

The gateway building, which is included in a program study being conducted by King & King Architects of Manlius, would house technology transfer facilities and the college's educational outreach programs. Murphy expects the college, through the SUNY Construction Fund, to issue a request for proposals for design of the building later this spring.

"We've been given significant capital resources," Murphy said. "It's going to help us to transform our campus."

Murphy envisions the gateway building as a "platinum plus" facility, earning the highest rating in the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design rating system. He said the building would be a physical representation of ESF's new academic programs in sustainable construction and renewable energy.

"The campus master planning committee and I want ESF to be the type of campus that when a person sets foot here, they say, 'Wow, this is a special place,'" he said.

Also included in the program study are the academic research building and a future student center. The academic research building will fill ESF's need for space as the college grows, Murphy said.

The funding for the carriage house at the AEC will help transform the building into an Adirondack conference and distance-learning center. The structure was one of the buildings donated to the college in the 1930s by Anna and Archer Huntington. The college plans to use the carriage house as a teleconferencing facility that will make ESF programs more available to secondary and college students, members of the scientific community and governmental and business leaders in the broader region.

The money earmarked for the Ranger School will be used to plan a recreation center for students who study forest technology and land surveying technology in the small town of Wanakena, about 60 miles east of Watertown.

"These facilities will allow us to better serve the North Country and to support our research mission," Murphy said.

He said the Central New York legislative delegation — Assemblywoman Joan K. Christensen, Assemblymen William B. Magnarelli and Al Stirpe, and Senators John A. DeFrancisco and David J. Valesky — supported the college's funding efforts, as did Assemblywoman Teresa R. Sayward and Senators Elizabeth O'C. Little and Joseph A. Griffo, who represent the North Country.