While no money will be available for construction for at least 10 years, the Salt Lake Community College Board of Trustees made a wise move this week in selecting a site for an additional campus.
Projecting needs into the 21st century, the board voted unanimously to choose a west-side site for a south valley branch campus on about 100 acres at 9000 South and 3600 West.The trustees, whose action must now be approved by the State Board of Regents, were following a legislative mandate to pick a spot within Salt Lake County south of 7200 South.
While other sites were considered, the property that straddles the border between South Jordan and West Jordan seems a good location. The property is south of Holy Cross Jordan Valley Hospital and west of National Semiconductor.
The regents' approval would allocate $1 million in already-appropriated state funds for purchase of the land.
Although buildings and other facilities at an additional campus won't start becoming a reality before the turn of the century, early selection of the site is a necessary long-range planning move. In any event, the 21st century is not really that far away.
The Utah Legislature will be asked over time to provide funding for facilities.
An additional campus will help Salt Lake Community College meet the growing needs of its population - 15,972 students at all locations of the college during fall quarter of 1991. This year's fall quarter classes don't begin until next Monday, but if past trends are any indication, full-time student equivalent numbers will take another jump.
The college is running out of space at the Redwood Road campus, where the first classes began in mid-March 1967. A new library, now under construction, should probably be ready next March. Construction on a Lifetime Activity Center will begin in January, and work is scheduled to begin next August on the new Science/Industry Building. But the campus is getting crowded, and there isn't much room for additional construction without building expensive structured-parking space.
With all the state building priorities, it may be a long time before the college gets authorization for another building at any of its campuses, said Gordon Storrs, SLVCC master planning coordinator.
Considering population growth in Salt Lake County, possibly 12,000 students alone could be using the new campus by the time it becomes a full-service facility in the year 2015, Storrs said.
As always, the key issue in the development of another Salt Lake Community College campus will be money. Since the Legislature routinely fails to financially cover all of the student growth in existing institutions, coming up with enough extra cash for a new campus may prove exceedingly difficult - even with a target date more than 20 years distant.
But at least it provides some time to discover answers and establish basic policies about the future of Utah higher education.