VERA CHINESE PHOTO
Local officials at a ceremonial groundbreaking Thursday to mark
the beginning of work on the Montaukett Learning Resource
Center at Suffolk County Community College’s eastern campus.
In 1997, an evaluation of the Suffolk County Community College eastern campus found its library was in sore need of an expansion.
The campus will finally be getting that upgrade, albeit 13 years later.
On Thursday, college officials and elected leaders held a groundbreaking ceremony at the Northhampton campus to mark the $14.5 million Montaukett Learning Resource Center project now underway there.
Construction on the 40,000-square-foot library, which will feature a lecture hall, study rooms for small groups and twice as many computers as the old library is expected to be completed early in 2011. It will be the first new building at the eastern campus in 34 years.
“This is going to be a fantastic building,” said head librarian Mary Ann Miller, who has worked for two decades in the old facility.
The new building received a silver certification from the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), which ensures that buildings adhere to strict environmental standards. And it may be upgraded to the highest gold certification upon completion, officials said.
Speakers noted during the ceremony that projects such as the new library are important for the future economic health of the region, as they help create a new generation of skilled workers to help keep the East End sustainable.
“It’s important that we continue to make these investments in higher education,” state Assemblyman Marc Alessi (D-Shoreham), whose district spans the North Fork, said during the ceremony. Suffolk County and New York State split the cost of the project.
“We take great pride in our success in transforming lives,” added the college’s president, Dr. Shaun McKay. “Communities thrive in libraries.”
Although administrators were clearly elated about the project, which many had championed for years, it was perhaps the students who were the most excited.
Student government president Mary Hughes, a general studies major from Greenport who will graduate this May, said though she would not directly benefit from the facility, it was important for future generations of students.
“If you believe in [something], you still need to nurture and advocate for it,” she said.
“Now I can study without having to fight for a computer,” said Christina Romeo, a first-year student at the school. “And not have to sit in my car.”