A judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by former Erie County Executive Joel Giambra for planned expansion of the Erie Community College's north campus. WBFO'S Focus on Education reporter Eileen Buckley says State Supreme Court Justice Deborah Chimes ruled that Giambra and two co-petitioners did not have proper legal standing to mount the court challenge.
"We are going to have appellate court look at this decision," said Giambra.
Giambra's argues ECC and Erie County will not conduct a full environmental review before constructing a planned $30-million academic building at Main and Youngs in Amherst. Giambra telling WBFO News the court's decision discounts student safety.
"For the judge to suggest that a student at Erie Community College does not have standing in the matter, from an economic justice standpoint, that would effect him, and many other students in this community is just wrong," stated Giambra.
Fearing sprawl, Giambra has long-debated that ECC should combined all three campuses into one-downtown Buffalo campus.
But County Executive Mark Poloncarz said he's pleased the lawsuit was dropped. Poloncarz issued a written statement Thursday:
"I am pleased that Judge Chimes recognized that this lawsuit did not have legal merit and promptly dismissed it. Planning for the new Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics building at Erie Community College’s North campus will continue to move forward as we work with our partners to create a campus that draws students to ECC North, rather than to community colleges in neighboring counties, for cutting-edge coursework in the sciences. The location of this new building was chosen after an exhaustive process, and the STEM classes to be held in it will complement current STEM classes already being offered at the North Campus. Construction of the building will bring long-needed upgrades to the North Campus and further the goal of having three strong campuses in the ECC system.”
Erie County Legislator Edward Rath was also pleased to learn that a lawsuit attempting to stop development at Erie Community College’s North Campus has been dismissed.
“Today’s announcement that this frivolous lawsuit has been dismissed is great news for ECC and our community. The lawsuit unfortunately wasted valuable time and resources when focus should have been on getting shovels in the ground much sooner. In my opinion, it was completely selfish and unnecessary. The Legislature, county executive, ECC and State government fully support the new STEM building at North, recognizing that it is critical to the future of ECC, and we are glad the courts agree. Hopefully we can take a real step forward and see this building completed in the near future. Progress and investment at the ECC North Campus are long overdue and this building is a significant step forward,” said Legislator Rath.