Organizations prepare for the razing of Holcomb

As plans move forward to raze the Holcomb building so that a new athletic stadium can be erected, the organizations currently housed in the building are preparing to relocate.

Construction on a stadium with two all-weather fields is expected to begin in January 2012 and be completed about a year later, said Ken Levison, vice president for administration and finance.

Levison said that plans to construct a new stadium began to develop about six years ago. Third-party consultants reviewed Geneseo's athletic facilities at that time and submitted recommendations for improvement, one of which was to build the stadium. According to Levison, Geneseo is one of two SUNY schools that do not have all-weather fields, the lack of which, he said, is particularly challenging considering Geneseo's inconsistent weather.

"This is a major step forward for the college," said Levison, adding that the new stadium will level the quality of Geneseo's athletic facilities with the high quality of its athletes.

Levison said that the college chose the location for its proximity to Merritt Athletic Center and Route 63. He added that Holcomb, originally built as a lab elementary school for the school of education, is a "very unforgiving building" that "would need $500 million in maintenance if we were to continue using [it]." As college organizations and departments use Holcomb minimally, continuing to operate the building "didn't make financial sense," Levison said.

But before construction can begin on the new stadium, Holcomb, which is currently used by both independent organizations and the college, must be vacated.

Four education classes currently taught in Holcomb will be moved elsewhere. The books stored in the building have been removed to Fraser and other storage has been either thrown out or also relocated.

The Office for Persons with Developmental Disabilities is also currently using space in Holcomb. The organization moved out of Doty and into Holcomb on Sept.14 in order to allow renovations to begin next month on its former space in Doty, Levison said.

Levison said that he expects that OPWDD will be able to return to Doty by January 2012, at which time Holcomb will be razed and construction can begin on the new athletic center. The small business enterprise program - an independent organization currently located in Holcomb - will also be moved to Doty once renovations are complete.

Holcomb also houses both KidStart, a daycare program operated by the A.R.C. of Livingston County, and the Council on Alcohol and Substance Abuse of Livingston County, Inc.

"Our relationship with the organizations is one in which we provide space," Levison said. He added that the college began conversations regarding the possibility that Holcomb might be destroyed with the organizations using its space as early as four years ago, though the terms of the college's contracts with the organizations stipulate that the college need only give 45-day notice.

"We wanted to give them as much leave time as we possibly could," Levison said.

While he said that he is unaware of CASA's plans for relocation, Levison has been in "constant contact" with A.R.C.

Chris Peterson, executive director of A.R.C, said that the organization is constructing a new building to house the KidStart program on Route 63 across from the Hampton Corners complex. Though the college has given KidStart until June 2011 to make the move, Peterson said he expects that the center will be completed by late December, at which time KidStart will move out of Holcomb and into its new location.

The new space, Peterson said, still falls within the boundaries of the Geneseo school district and was "the most affordable option."

"It took us three years to formulate our plans," Peterson said, adding that the college was "proactive" about alerting A.R.C. that it would need to eventually relocate. "We had enough time to find another solution."

Peterson said that the move brings with it some advantages. For example, the new building will be air-conditioned while Holcomb is not.

Peterson said, however, that the rooms in the new center will not be as large as those in Holcomb. He added that the change in location "could be very disruptive" to some of KidStart's children, many of whom have special needs.

"We'd still love to be there," said Peterson of the Holcomb building, which has housed Kidstart since 1978. "It's a big change."

Chris Taylor, executive director of CASA, said that his organization is "working with Livingston County to move into a space at Millennium Drive," adding that CASA is "currently working on its plans."