By SCOTT JACKSON
Quincy College should consider joining the state’s community college system, Councillor Anne Mahoney said.
Mahoney plans to introduce a resolution to that effect when the City Council meets May 3. Three of her colleagues, William Harris, David McCarthy and Charles Phelan Jr., have signed on to cosponsor the resolution.
The resolution, if approved, calls upon the school’s board of governors to meet with state officials to consider alternatives to its current operations, such as merging with Massasoit Community College or operating as a community college in its own right.
Quincy College is currently owned by the city of Quincy and is one of just a handful of municipally owned institutions of higher learning remaining in the country.
The school currently leases space at Presidents Place on Hancock Street. Mayor Thomas Koch has proposed constructing a new 205,000-gross-square-foot building at the site of Munroe Building on Hancock Street to house both the college and the municipal offices now located in the city hall annex building.
Koch is seeking council approval to borrow $23 million as the first step in the project. The funds would include $15 million to acquire the Munroe Building and the parking lot at 1177 Hancock St., $6 million to relocate the tenants of the Munroe Building, and $2 million for consultant services, including an owner’s project manager and architect.
Construction of the new building itself is expected to cost more than $100 million, Joseph Shea, a consultant for the city, told councillors this week. Under the mayor’s proposal, the city would bond the full cost of the project and the college would pay rent to the city equal to its share of the debt service payments.
At Monday’s meeting to consider the initial $23 million bond, Mahoney suggested it might be time for Quincy College to operate independent of the city.
“This may be more appropriately solved if the Quincy College board was to go to the state maybe and ask to be part of the community college plan,” Mahoney said. “The taxpayers are being asked to fund a college…we are the only municipal college and that is a concern of mine.”
Mahoney was not alone in questioning Koch’s proposal during Monday’s meeting.
Ward 3 Councillor Ian Cain asked why the administration would seek to take the Munroe Building for such a purpose, because doing so would remove it from the city’s tax roll and would stop it from being redeveloped by a private entity. He also noted that more and more students are taking classes online, a trend that began even before the pandemic forced many schools to move away from in-person classes at least temporarily.
“If we say no to this building, it is not Quincy College’s demise,” Cain said. “[The question] is how do we reposition Quincy College for its success and that to me would include finding resources that are not necessarily bonded numbers to buy valuable real estate in the downtown on speculation.”
Councillors did not vote on the proposal during Monday’s meeting and the item remains in finance committee. Ward 1 Councillor David McCarthy, the committee’s chairman, said two more meetings on the proposal could be held in the coming weeks.