Gateway: No second referendum

July 9, 2013

From journaltimes.com: “Gateway: no second referendum” — STURTEVANT — Gateway President Bryan Albrecht does not plan to go back to the public with a second referendum, but he said Monday something needs to be done for Gateway Technical College to continue offering law enforcement training.

Instead of pursuing another referendum for a public safety training center, Albrecht plans to explore partnerships, particularly with other government entities such as municipalities, he said Monday at a Gateway Technical College Board retreat at the SC Johnson iMET Center in Sturtevant, 2320 Renaissance Blvd.

In April residents across three counties, including Racine, voted down a $49 million funding request from Gateway for a package of construction projects that included a $15.6 million public safety training center.

The proposal included plans for a new 24-lane shooting range and an on-site driving course complete with simulated intersections, street lights and highway ramps.

The college has a five-lane shooting range in Kenosha, but it is in poor condition, Albrecht said. Also Gateway offers driving training at a rented parking lot at the former Dairyland Greyhound Track in Kenosha, but the future of the track is in limbo and Gateway officials do not know how long that option will be available.

If nothing is done, Gateway could lose its state accreditation to teach law enforcement classes, Albrecht said.

To continue offering law enforcement training, Albrecht presented the board with three options: renovating Kenosha’s campus for an estimated $6 million, another smaller referendum, or pursuing partnerships.

His recommendation, which the board agreed with, was to pursue partnerships with other local governments.

Albrecht understands other government entities’ spending is limited by state law, but he said some municipalities own land and former industrial buildings that Gateway could renovate and lease.

A “public-public partnership” is the ideal option Albrecht said because the Wisconsin Technical College System Board has not always approved public-private partnerships where the private sector partner generates income from the college, rather than donating funds.

Gateway is limited in how much it can spend to physically expand its campus by state law, but Albrecht said the college does not have similar state-imposed limits on improvements to leased properties.

Ideally Albrecht said he is looking to lease a property with a building of at least 40,000 square feet and 10 acres of land, where a driving track could be built.

He plans to report back to the Gateway board in October with an update on any possible partnerships.

Albrecht has looked at properties in Kenosha, Burlington and Racine, but he said he is having difficulty finding the optimal piece of property.

Scott Pierce, one of the members of Gateway’s board, said he supports the college’s law enforcement training. But if Gateway cannot get public support for a public safety training center, Pierce said the college should take a serious look at the program and decide if the college should continue offering law enforcement training.

“I know this is harsh,” Pierce said during the meeting. “But sometimes you have to cut your losses.”

Also Neville Simpson, another board member, questioned the value of spending a large amount of money on something that only benefits a small number of people.

But Albrecht said thousands of people every year come to Gateway for law enforcement training.

In the 2012-13 academic year an estimated 5,000 people took law enforcement training classes at Gateway, said Bill Whyte, Gateway’s vice president of human resources and facilities.

If the college was able to expand its facilities, Gateway projects enrollment in the college’s law enforcement training classes would jump 30 percent, according to Whyte.

Albrecht said Monday he does not plan on asking for another referendum for a public safety training center, but he said he does not want Gateway to eliminate its law enforcement training.

“I don’t consider that an option,” Albrecht said of eliminating the training. “It’s too important for the community.”

 

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