A decision by Jamestown Community College to close its Community Services Center has two organizations looking for new homes.
The college's Community Services Center, informally known as ''the annex'' and located across from Russ Diethrick Park on Falconer Street, is 102 years old. Housed in that building are the Chautauqua Lake Child Care Center, the Jamestown Area Senior Citizens Center, the Chautauqua County Law Enforcement Academy and a branch of Empire State College.
Two of those organizations - the Chautauqua County Law Enforcement Academy and Empire State College, which is part of the State University of New York system - operate as part of JCC's curriculum. They will be relocated to other buildings on campus, according to Nelson Garifi, the college's director of marketing.
Jamestown Community College will close the annex across from Diethrick Park.
P-J photo by Kristen Johnson
But Jamestown's senior activity center and the Chautauqua Child Care Center are separate tenants of the annex building and must find new space, Garifi said.
News of the building's closure came Tuesday when Beth Starks, the Chautauqua Lake Child Care Center executive director, issued a press release seeking the community's help with finding a new space.
The center's lease with JCC runs out in July, leaving the center five months with which to find new space.
''We were first told of the college's decision to not renew our lease about a week and a half ago,'' Ms. Starks said. ''We did know our arrangement was a short-term one. We knew when we signed the lease the building wouldn't be up for forever, but we thought we had another year so we felt we had plenty of time and we weren't worried.''
Garifi said in an email to The Post-Journal that JCC entered into a two-year lease agreement in 2007 with the child care center. In 2009, that agreement was extended for one year. He said both leases were signed with the ''full understanding that it would be a short term lease ... because the future of the Community Services Center was uncertain.''
Ms. Starks said college officials initially thought there would be on-campus space for the child care center in the existing arts and sciences building once construction on the new science building was complete. But space in that building filled up, she said, and the child care center must now find new space off campus.
Any new space must have room for four classrooms and an office, Ms. Starks said, and center officials ''would prefer'' a space that's within driving distance of the current location so the center can ''continue to provide care for our current clients.''
Shirley Vandenburg, the city's senior center director, said she had ''no idea'' what the center would do and called the news ''a punch in the stomach.''
The senior center's situation has been something of a rollercoaster since October, when funding for the center was not included in Mayor Sam Teresi's draft 2010 budget. While the Jamestown City Council ultimately opted to fund the center, it budgeted just $4,800 - enough to keep the center open, but a far cry from the budget allocation it enjoyed in years past.
Previously located in the parsonage at St. John Church on Newton Avenue, the senior center was able to move into three vacant rooms in JCC's Community Services Center in January - a move Mrs. Vandenburg called ''a godsend.'' The senior center's lease at JCC expires in December.
''We intend to fulfill our current commitment to the Jamestown Senior Center as we have to the (child care center), and again, the city understood that this would be a short-term relationship,'' Garifi said. ''The Science Center will not include space for the Senior Center.''
Lt. Marty Bova of the Chautauqua County Sheriff's Department said news of the impending closure of the annex building was not news to him.
''I became the director of the Sheriff's training academy back in 2005 and at the time, we were told that the closure was part of the college's long-term plans,'' Lt. Bova said. ''Since then, we have worked closely with JCC to establish a new space on the main campus for the academy. We have had discussions about what our needs are as far as a facility is concerned, and they have been more than accommodating.''
Dr. Nan DiBello, Dean of the Niagara Frontier Center at Empire State College, said she was unaware of JCC's decision to close the Community Services Center. She declined to comment further and referred questions to JCC's administration.
College officials have planned for the building to be decommissioned as a new science center is currently under construction on campus, but the building's ultimate fate is still being explored.
''As the college is adding square footage through the new Science Center currently under construction, the decision to formally decommission the Community Services Center is imminent and we cannot extend agreements for occupancy of that building,'' Garifi said. ''Because of the (building's) age and condition, the college doesn't feel it would be in the best interest of the taxpayers to continue to invest resources in the building. While the exact fate of the building is still being explored, the property on which the building stands is positioned to have continued value to the college.''
Robert Rizzuto contributed to this report.