VENICE – State College of Florida took the first steps forward in exploring a partnership for developing the Design & Economic Acceleration Lab at Lakewood Ranch.
Trustees agreed to amend the SCF educational plant five-year survey, the capital improvement program through the 2015-2016 fiscal year, and the project priority list.
Trustees also approved a resolution to seek approval of the bonding of capital improvement fees to fund the design of DEAL. SCF's partners in DEAL are Gulf Coast Community Foundation and Lakewood Ranch developer Schroeder-Manatee Ranch.
While Wednesday’s actions do not lock SCF into developing DEAL, it gives President Lars Hafner the ability to move forward with the exploratory process.
Several of the trustees said they still have questions about the project, and one, Carlos Beruff, said he opposes it.
“I want to be explicit to the public that this is far from a done deal,” Beruff said. “The project doesn’t make sense financially.”
Beruff said he opposes leveraging college fees for the project, and asked how it adds to the mission of a community college.
Other property exists that would be suitable for the project, and at lower cost, he said.
What are SMR and the Gulf Coast Community Foundation bring to the table? he asked.
Hafner made a presentation to the Manatee Economic Development Council last week, trying to get buy-in for DEAL, and has a presentation set for the Sarasota EDC next week.
The proposed location for DEAL is on the Manatee-Sarasota county line near the eastern terminus of University Parkway.