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Young Citizens to ECC: Downtown or bust!

Young Citizens for ECC, a regional advocacy group for Erie Community College, is bringing a message to ECC President Jack Quinn and County Executive Chris Collins: Build downtown!

The group addressed the Buffalo Common Council on Tuesday to develop support for constructing ECC’s proposed $30 million Health Sciences Center for Excellence at the college’s City Campus, not at its isolated Amherst campus as currently planned.

“We think it’s absolutely ridiculous,” said Bernice Radle, chair of Young Citizens for ECC. “It deserves to be downtown where all the opportunities are, and where there’s plenty of space and plenty of opportunity to build.”

President Jack Quinn was also on hand to defend the college’s bizarre plans to build its health sciences center miles away from the job and internship opportunities of the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus. Young Citizens for ECC appear to have given Quinn a run for his money.

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Holding signs reading “downtown or bust,” the young citizens zinged Quinn with point after point on their push to expand ECC’s City Campus. Here’s a few stand-outs:

Jason Kulaszewski: “I’m an alum of ECC. I also took public transit to school. Almost one-third of citizens in the City of Buffalo rely on public transportation, and without this access to the school there’s zero access to jobs and economic development opportunities for this 31 percent. The Center for Excellence needs to be located downtown which is more accessible to the community at large.”

Greg Conley: “This issue isn’t about ECC competing with NCCC. This is how Buffalo can compete nationally with the cities that are taking away our talented young people. Let’s look at another region. San Diego. San Diego has the third largest health sciences industry in the United States. The chancellor for the San Diego Community College system sits on the board of the San Diego health sciences industry association, yet here in Buffalo not even a single ECC trustee sits on the board of the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus. The medical campus has 21 board members. Think about that. Where’s our region’s vision? Fifty percent of all health sciences employees in our country were educated at community colleges, yet ECC’s participation in the development of the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus is zero percent. The thousands of jobs being generated at the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus are not largely the star researchers. They’re the nurses, lab technicians, research assistants, people disproportionately educated at community colleges, not Ivy League graduate schools. If we’re going to connect our region’s young people with the jobs of the future, Erie Community College must move in a new direction.”

Samantha Fuszara: “I’m a Williamsville resident. 18,500 cars pass by Main Street every weekday and traffic is a nightmare. This proposal would make the matter worse. We need to start making smart decisions, smart choices, and we need to build ECC downtown.”

Sarah Caputi: “I’ve actually taken a bus from Buffalo State to ECC North and it took me over an hour and three buses to get there. The bus routes do not follow class schedules. It seems to me that it would be very difficult for students to try and coordinate their schedule and make it to the North Campus from the City if they don’t own a car. So transportation is essential, and why not put this investment where it is most accessible for all students?”

Approval for the $30 million, 100,000 sq. ft. campus building was recently stalled in the New York State Assembly, which declined a $15 million funding request from County Executive Chris Collins in part due to controversy about the proposed location for the facility. The delay, says Young Citizens for ECC, is an opportunity to get things right.

They also appear to have an ally in former county executive Joel Giambra, who also made an appearance at Tuesday’s hearing.

“How can we justify continuing the status quo and accepting mediocrity?” said Giambra. “People in this community rue the day that the decision was made to build the University at Buffalo campus out in a swamp instead of the fertile soil here in the City of Buffalo. That was a mistake that we will all regret for time immemorial, but we cannot allow another mistake to made again.”

Councilmembers Joe Golombek and Darius Pridgen introduced a resolution in April calling on ECC to reconsider its plans. Now the topic is in the hands of the Western New York state delegation, which holds the keys to half the project’s funding.

For more information about Young Citizens for ECC and its mission to build up the City Campus, contact Bernice Radle at youngcitizensforecc@gmail.com.

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  • majove

    How refreshing to see young activists with a clear message.

  • hamp

    Nice job. Intelligence will win out.

  • 16thStreet

    Go Bernice!

  • Scottwf

    build it downtown. the area around the north campus is conjested enough… build another 100k sq ft building out here and you can also schedule in yet another costly road expansion project as well, again.

  • KangDangaLang

    Im glad to see Giambra step up to the plate. One of his big time initiatives was to bring ECC downtown. It would also bring a great opportunity for the Statler. Im sure they could fit the whole complex in one of the towers. Then make the other one student housing. Then take the last one and place business in it, done deal. If I was Croce I would be begging ECC to move downtown.

  • Travelrrr

    I have hope for the future-thanks Bernie and all the young mobilizers. Let’s stop the self-seeking decision-making dead in its tracks.

  • Johnny LoVecchio

    This is an opportunity for Giambra to make amends for his budget debacle of a few years ago, and I totally applaud him for his efforts in helping these kids.
    Its refreshing to see young people, especially those who would only stay at ECC 4 semesters and then leave, take an interest in where they learn.
    Why move this campus to Amherst? What’s Collins trying to prove? Is he doing it just because its the opposite of Giambra’s plan?
    UB is moving parts of its campus into the city, Buff State, Medaille and D’Youville are already in the City; when these ECC students accumulate enough credits, they will most likely transfer to one of those schools. It would only make sense that they do tranfer from a city campus, to a city campus. ECC in Amherst makes absolutely no sense. Downtown needs more to build it up.

  • Jesse

    I wonder what the reasoning is – the only things I can think of is that the land is cheaper and no one really wants to have to work with the City of Buffalo.

  • Lego1981

    Plenty of empty lots for ECC to build on downtown and it’s right near the metro rail, bus station, cafe’s, restaurants so students and employees don’t have to get in their car and drive anywhere on break. Why not Downtown?

  • Travelrrr

    Couldn’t be more off the mark on that one Jesse. More companies are moving in, than out, currently.

  • LouisTully

    Though I think it is ludicrous to expand the Amherst campus, this article was completely slanted.
    You state they gave Quinn a run for his money but you didn’t offer a single quote from him. He was on hand, did he speak?

  • KangDangaLang

    ……..just wait until HSBC moves out. Plus I know from first hand experience what a nightmare doing anything with the City Of Buffalo is. You go in on a Monday and say “hi I’m here to check up on xxxxxx”. They’ll say “oh yeah (?) that sounds familiar, come back tomorrow and ill have your paperwork ready”. You go back on Tuesday and say “hi I’m here to check up on xxxxxx again”. They’ll say “oh yeah (?) that sounds familiar, come back tomorrow and ill have your paperwork ready”. When you come back on wednesday and check up on it again you get a slightly different answer, “hummm that doesnt sound familiar (?) have you submitted your paperwork?”. Catch my drift?

  • Johnny LoVecchio

    That you forgot to fill out your paperwork and are now passing the buck? Yea — we got it.

  • YoungCitizen

    We believe that this New Health and Science Center for Excellence should be located on the doorstep of the Emerging Buffalo-Niagara Medical Corridor. We have to give our youth the access to the jobs that are located there. This is an opportunity for ECC to be a major player in our community’s future by leading the way in this field and being a competitor on a National Level with other two-year institutions. To place the New Facility isolated in the Northern suburbs gives the students at ECC a disadvantage in emerging the medical field, and we will continue to lose our youth to other forward thinking communities.
    If you believe ECC should do the right thing for our community and it’s students by placing ECC’s Health and Science Center for Excellence in the Buffalo-Niagara Medical Corridor PLEASE voice your opinion, follow the link (or cut & paste), and sign our petition…THANK YOU Western New York!
    http://www.thepetitionsite.com/takeaction/595/026/589/

  • bella citta del Buffalo

    Listen to the young … for they shall inherit the city. Although I also was interested in Quinn’s response.

  • KangDangaLang

    Yes……that is exactly what I was saying. Thank you for gracing us with your indepth response.

  • Chris

    I don’t want to go so far as to say that a ecc downtown focus is as big for buffalo as ub 2020, but a downtown focus would be a game changer.
    The optics of a downtown community college campus to the under priviledge puts a college education within sight. You see the students and they are no different from them.
    A lot more goes into it, but sometimes we forget that seeing it is the first step.
    I remember a scene in the show “the wire” where a teacher takes the some kids to Mortons Steakhouse. None of the kids had ever been out to eat at a real resturant and didn’t know how to act at all. This is the same idea.

  • YoungCitizen

    I find it interesting that ECC President Jack Quinn countered the Medical Campus arguement with, “This particular project at this particular time in history is slated at the north campus for a lot of other reasons that don’t have anything to do with ignoring or making the city of Buffalo second.” What are the reasons Jack?
    ECC’s Board of Trustees voted unanimously to put this very facility in Downtown Buffalo in 2007, and have now completely changed their position without any significant changes on the Board. Only one Major player has changed since 2007…County Executive.

  • suburban_hillbilly

    (begin sarcasm font) Why build a Health Science facility in the city vs. Williamsville? Do you honestly think it benefits the students at ECC to have access to the opportunity presented by the growth of the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus? Do you really think that any ECC students will eventually transfer to study Health Sciences/Medicine at UB? What are you people smoking? The obsolete wasteland of ECC North is perfect place for this new complex.(end sarcasm font) ECC North is far removed from what is arguably the brightest spot for economic development in Erie County. I am not always a propopent of the city in the “city vs. suburbs debate” but any rational evaluation of this situation clearly points in the direction of a down town location. Props to the young citizens and the voice of reason.

  • KangDangaLang

    Hummm good point, makes ya wonda???????

  • Bev

    Where would the expanded city campus be located and who owns the property that it would occupy?

  • KeepItSimple

    In a milieu of declining popultation we simply must strengthen our core—otherwise *both* downtown and suburbs decay.

  • Black Rock Lifer

    At the very least this project needs to be stalled until we can elect a new County Executive. Chris “I hate the city” Collins has been a disaster for WNY and especially for the City of Buffalo. The man has no vision, send him back to his gated community in Spaulding Lake where he and Jane Corwin can celebrate their lifestyle of conspicuous consumption.

  • skybox

    Bitter much? Or is it jealousy? I can’t quite put my finger on which one it is.
    I’m no fan of Collins but the guy is one of the first politicians to live up to his campaign promises. I give him credit for that.

  • john.straubinger

    Collins, Quinn and whoever else is involved in this site selection process needs to answer Bernice’s main question, “What happened between 2007 and now? These guys also need to tell us what their plan is for getting the kids that would be learning out on Youngs Rd involved in internship programs that they’ll need to be involved in on the BNMC campus.

  • Black Rock Lifer

    No, I have no respect for those that seek material wealth as a way of life. Collins and Corwin represent the ugly American, caught up in the endless pusuit of more stuff. Just a difference in values, they just seem to lack the basics we were all taught in Sunday School.

  • BuffaloisRising

    If we are playing the blame game with the politicians as far as the city, pretty sure i would point my finger at Byron Brown, who every time he is quoted, says something that didn’t need to be said, as everyone age 2 and up was thinking it. As far as WNY, he is giving us a surplus each year. He cuts costs to save us money, we can’t keep spending what we don’t have, we have to cut somewhere

  • Black Rock Lifer

    Collins did not “create a surplus” but simply hoarded the 11.7 million in stimulus funds provided by Obama and the Democrats. BTW that money was meant to protect and create jobs, not to be used to prop up the County Executive and his reelection.

  • bobbycat

    Collins inherited a mess from Joel Giambra, similar to the mess that Obama inherited from George Bush. It is funny that you won’t give Collins the same slack you give Obama when it comes to overcome fiscal obstacles.
    Collins was elected on a platform of smaller government, lower taxes, and improved efficiency. He received 64% of the popular vote, compared to only 32% for Keane. So far he seems to be living up to what his voters asked him to do. He inherited a $108M deficit from Giambra’s. who increased government costs by 21.4% in four years, cut property taxes by 18%, and then 16% the next year, and raised sales taxes to cover the $100M in loans he took to balance the budget. The Erie County Economic Stability Board predicted that Erie County would face a $279M deficit by 2011 if Giambra’s plan stayed in place.
    Collins ended his first year with a legitimate $13M surplus, followed by a $44M surplus in 2009, and a reported $23.8M surplus in 2010. He has cut many millions of dollars out of the yearly budget, reduced the size of government, and improved operational efficiencies. This is the platform that Erie County residents elected him on. Collins stated in 2010 that we did not need to spend the stimulus money just because we received it. I don’t understand why he should spend all the money we have paid to the county if we don’t need to spend it. He has proven that we have positions that don’t need to be filled, we have spending on special interest groups and projects who cannot prove that the money they are given is being spent prudently and judicially.
    I think Collins has done a lot to protect private sector jobs in WNY, and I am happy that he is not adding unneeded positions to the County payroll that we will have to pay for years to come.

  • KangDangaLang

    Chris Collins is the best thing to happen to Erie County since the Canal was created in 1825! Maybe that was a bit of an exaggeration but seriously though this guy has been a financial savior to the tax payers of Erie County. I think you should trim government spending as much as possible. If you dont have the money for services……dont provide them. If you cant afford day care for the poor…..dont provide it. People have to start making chances for themselves, and be accountable. This is what Chris Collins has brought. He’ll win County Executive by a landslide during the next election cycle, and probably win another one if he runs again. It wouldnt surprise me at all if Collins ran for Governor in the near future. Cities/Counties are built by smart political policies. When Collins moves on the brighter pastures the citizens of Erie County will only then realize what they had.

  • whatever

    YC>”voted unanimously to put this very facility in Downtown Buffalo in 2007″
    1st question: What’s a reference saying that ‘this very facility’ voted on in 07 is the same as what’s being discussed now? (I’m not saying it is or isn’t – I don’t know – but since you’re making a claim, let’s see objective verification.)
    A few more:
    After Obama’s election should all policies have had to continue as done when GWB was president?
    If it’s ok for big changes in direction to have been caused by Obama replacing GWB, isn’t it also ok for big changes to happen after Collins replaced Giambra?
    (if indeed this is the same project)
    Isn’t it very normal for elections to have consequences?
    Didn’t Collins make very clear to the public during the campaign 4 years ago that he opposes consolidating ECC in downtown – the opposite of Giambra’s hope/plan? (That one is rhetorical. Answer is yes Collins did make it clear, prior to being elected in a landslide. The other questions aren’t rhetorical.)

  • Greg

    Great question! There are a number of properties Erie County owns that can service the City Campus. You have to remember that “ECC” does not own any property, it is Erie County that does. So having said that, there are a few properties:
    45 Oak st. It’s the ugly looking one floor structure north of the Flickinger Center. That was originally slated to be demolished and built upon under the consolidation plan.
    100 North Division st. It’s the property north of 45 Oak st. It’s currently an ECC parking lot.

  • buffalofalling

    BurchJP and all the remaining Collins apologists…
    It’s a disgusting and sad day when all anyone cares about is a number or rate rather than the validity and necceesity of cuts the heavyhanded county executive is making. I’m certainly not against smaller government but the priorities for what is cut and what isn’t are as important as the measure to reduce it. Cutting for the sake of cutting is only a means to gain political capital for those dumb enough to provide it.
    Cutting the library while continuing to grow the sheriffs department is backwards (and pro-Clarence by the way). Gutting cultural entities and cutting back on ECC’s ability to deliver education is ridiculous, and makes the need for a new ECC building a major question and superfluous.
    If given the choice between lower taxes and a cultural-less, social service-less, and libarary-less community and the opposite, I’d take the opposite.
    Sadly, you don’t get that the quality of life of all is as important as your selfish standard of living. I’d prefer the county government be abolished and since every community only cares about itself, let everyone fend for themselves. Let Collins and his wealthy friends in Clarence pay milllions for their own police department instead of continuing to grow and allow everyone to subsidize it.
    The conversation can’t be as Glenn Beck/Sarah Palin low-brow as “cut government” but rather has to be had with a complete understanding of what it does, how it does, whether its equitable and whether its necessary.
    It’ll be hard to attract business here for low taxes when there are no libaries or parks. But hey, Spaulding Lake will still have its personal police patrol provided everyone in the County.

  • Johnny LoVecchio

    I love how this article has seemingly spun way off topic. I can’t believe I am about to defend BurchJP, because, well — I find his/her posts to be remniscent of thoughts given by a child whose crib was lined with a Fays Drug Store bag. That being said, Collins has done exactly what he said he was going to — he has run Erie County like a business and balanced a seemingly inefficient system that Giambracrats ruined.
    The function of government isn’t to provide employment to Erie County residents. Some of the perks these employees get are down right preposterous and if I were Collins, I would do the same thing the Governor of Wisconsin did, take away the Unions collective bargaining rights and make them work the same way we do — without entitlement. You know what would happen if I told my boss I wasn’t going to come in on Fridays from June to September? My paycheck would either be short a few dollars, or my vacation time would be.
    As for social services? Don’t even get me started. There are too many programs, too many recipients, too much abuse and too many employees.
    Now, libraries, I’m inclined to agree with you — but that brings us back to the NIMBY argument. Everyone agrees there are too many duplicated services in Erie County, but no one wants to lose theirs. Someone is going to lose out and its not going to be me.

  • whatever

    John>”What happened between 2007 and now?”
    Isn’t it obvious what happened was in 2007 the county exec was still Joel Giambra who made it clear he favored putting all of ECC downtown (so of course someone who favors that won’t support any new building on ECC/North campus no matter what).
    Then in Nov 2007, Erie Co voters overwhelmingly elected a new county exec in Collins who had made clear during campaign he favors continuing the ECC/North campus for the long term.
    (By the way, the county leg majority elected by voters has consistently favored the Collins view against consolidating ECC at downtown, even back when Giambra was still exec and Dems held a leg majority and Giambra never made progress on his goal)
    Shouldn’t elections (of the exec & the leg) have consequences?
    And if one of those consequences is continuing a campus at ECC/North, doesn’t it logically follow that eventually (if not now, then some day) some new building will happen there?

  • whatever

    Nobody can cite an objective source to back young citizen’s claim about ‘this very facility’?
    YC>”voted unanimously to put this very facility in Downtown Buffalo in 2007″

  • Travelrrr

    The main argument from North Campus proponents seems to resolve around the “Erie County has to pay $x for each student that chooses NCCC over ECC.” I understand why that would be worrisome. However, how does this necessarily translate to building a campus in the ‘burbs? Is the supposition that an expanded ‘burbs campus will prevent further defections to NCCC over a downtown ECC? Please explain.