McHenry County College Rolls Out $279 Million 10-Year Campus “Vision,” Cost for 2052 Plan $640 Million in 2013 Dollars without Interest
“Vision” was the word that main presenter Leanne Meyer-Smith used to describe the $278.5 million (excluding “soft” and acquisition costs) proposal her firm developed for the McHenry County College Board.
As with most presentations of government “goods,” the cost didn’t come until after the benefits.
In fact, the cost figures were on the very last slide.
After 35 pages of attractive wish-fulfillments.
Wight Arhcitectural-Engineering-Constrution plans started with the current boundaries.
As a basis for projecting needs, the consultants guessed that enrollment would increase 3% per year for the next forty years and selected junior colleges for comparison, but eliminated what were called “outliers.”
While inflation of students was projected, monetary inflation was not. The $278 million dollars are 2013 dollars, even though they are for the first ten-years of the forty-year plan.
Morraine Valley Community College had fewer square feet per student than MCC (85 vs. 97 at MCC), but, since it was an “outlier,” it disappeared from the analysis.
Except when the Wight people want to show how a quadrangle arrangement of buildings could work.
Lake County had 124 square feet per student and was also eliminated as an “outlier.”
Left for comparison were colleges the lowest of which in square footage (College of DuPage) was 18.6% higher than MCC’s.; the largest square footage, at Harper, was 38% higher than McHenry County’s.
What little I remember of math was that assumptions always determined the solutions.
Start with a high base and you’ll end up with a high result.
With MCC now having 97 square feet per student, the number advanced by the consultants was “120-124 gross square feet per student.”
This, even though it was admitted that an increasing number of students were taking their courses online.
No where in the presentation was there any analysis of the utilization of current space, by the way. Nevertheless, faculty told the consultants, “There’s a space crunch everywhere you go.”
An image of the view from Route 14 was described as a necklace of buildings. Not mentioned is that there will be lakes along most of the distance.
A arched entryway is envisioned for the main entrance opposite Lucas Road.
And there will be lots of “quality outdoor space” in the center of the campus to encourage students to stay on campus.
A key element in the space calculation is needed parking.
For none of the other colleges used for comparison, however were such figures presented.
Pretty much every word available was used to appeal to environmentalists. There was even a photo of a windmill on one slide.
The argument was made that using permeable paving “at least at the front,” the three-stage water run-off system mandated by Crystal Lake Watershed Ordinance, electric car re-charging stations, etc., would allow the public and even builders to see what can be seen “no place [else]” locally.
I am sure the McHenry County Conservation District would be pleased to show off most of what was suggested at its Visitors Centerin Ringwood.
I have to admit that I don’t understand the logic for electric re-charging stations being taxpayer financed. Maybe that’s not what the consultants were suggesting. With natural gas prices where they are, ten years from now, there might well be more cars running on that fuel than electricity unless there are much better batteries in our future. And, if there are, what would be the need for re-charging stations?
Lots of trucks running on natural gas now, by the way. Not that I am suggesting MCC setting up a location to fill vehicle tanks.
Plenty of meetings were held over a nine-month period to obtain input, but most seem to have been in-house. Employees, of course, always want more space, better working conditions. They, however, want others to pay for such improvements.
The most significant outreach was to the McHenry County Council of Governments, which in my less polite moments, I would characterized as a trade association of taxeaters.
Under no characterization, however, could they be labeled taxpayer advocates. I say that waiting for any governing board to point out more than one year in which their boards did not take (or reserve for the taking in future years) the maximum amount possible from property taxpayers. (Most, including MCC, have always maximized the tax take from homeowners and businesses. Any corrections will made joyously.)
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Some comments on SolarCrete.