Kirtland Community College’s Board of Trustees votes to transition all Roscommon facilities to Grayling campus
Dan Sanderson | Staff Writer
The Kirtland Community College Board of Trustees approved a resolution on Thursday, June 20, to move all Roscommon facilities and students to its campus in Grayling.
The approved proposal includes plans for an additional building on the Kirtland-Grayling campus, anticipated to be 70,000 square feet. The new building will house learning spaces and facilities for criminal justice, the police academy, the automotive technology lab, print and mail shop, art and design department, an event center, and the facilities management department.
“This approved proposal will be the third phase of development on the Kirtland-Grayling campus, which launched in 2016 with the Health Sciences Center and expanded in spring 2019 with the Michigan Forest Products Institute. Plans for the third phase of development are underway and are anticipated to be finalized by the end of the year. Construction on the new building will begin spring of 2020, with programming anticipated to begin in the new space fall 2021. The project is being funded through college reserves and bonds,” according to college officials.
“There will be no new taxes for this one,” said Dr. Tom Quinn, the president of Kirtland Community College.
The board of trustees capped the budget for the new building at $17 million, and Quinn believes the project will cost less than that.
The college was established on March 17, 1966. Most of the buildings on the Roscommon campus are 50 years old. The move is being made for energy efficiency costs and to provide a convenient location for students to receive a quality education.
“This was not an easy decision,” Quinn said. “It’s a significant decision on our part.”
The transition has been part of the college’s five-year strategic plan. A committee comprised of 11 college instructors started working earnestly on the plans in January. Quinn stressed that students also want to be in Grayling.
“They’re happy to be at this campus and that is a key thing,” Quinn said.
Programs such as wood science and technology, automation and process control, surgery technology, health information technology, and cyber security will all be offered at the Grayling campus.
“Those are distinct programs that draw students from big distances,” Quinn said.
The college is positioning itself to draw in younger students and to be responsible with taxpayer dollars.
“The programs that are coming here are increasing in enrollment and that’s big for us because we need the workforce,” Quinn said.
There is 188 acres available at the Grayling campus.
“The time is now to invest further in the modern and dynamic environment of the Grayling campus,” said Tom Ritter, a trustee for Kirtland Community College. “Since the campus opened in 2016, students have been flocking to it. It has become a beacon of opportunity for both our students and the broader community, and its expansion will take that even further.”
In the interim, college leadership and board will determine the feasibility of long-term solutions for the Roscommon campus, including its potential sale. The campus is 12 miles from Roscommon and eight miles from St. Helen.
“We would like it to be used for something that would benefit the community and put it back on the tax rolls,” Quinn said. “Everybody would be much happier.”
In 2013, voters in the college’s service area voted down a proposal to upgrade and maintain facilities at the Roscommon campus.
A big part of the reason to move is the opportunity to receive water and sewer service from the Beaver Creek Township Grayling Township Utility Authority.
It is costly for the college to do reports, take samples, and do maintenance and repairs for water and sewer service at the Roscommon site.
“We don’t want to be in the water and sewer business,” Quinn said.
Residents in the college’s service districts are encouraged to learn more about the plans and to tour the Grayling campus.
“We understand that this is a big change and we understand as taxpayers that you have questions. We are consolidating our campuses in order to bring our students together and ensure a brighter future. A centralized campus with modern facilities is essential to providing a vibrant learning environment and maintaining financial health as a college. Roscommon is too expensive to keep, and today’s students don’t want to take classes there. They prefer Grayling for many reasons,” Quinn said. “With higher education enrollment dwindling statewide we must make the right decisions to remain a strong and attractive option. To all of our neighbors upset by this move, and to everyone, please come visit our Kirtland-Grayling campus. Talk with current students, experience the new spaces, and please consider coming by my office for a tour. This space is for everyone in our five plus county area to use and enjoy, and I’m happy to speak with you more about it.”