SLCC campus in Herriman?

Higher ed » State would need to buy part of a 90-acre tract near new schools
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A Herriman landowner's proposed gift could lay the foundation for a future southwest valley campus of Salt Lake Community College, but the deal would still require a $20 million investment from the state.

Expanding into the valley's south end is part of the college's long-term strategic plan, which envisions a chain of campuses the length of the county.

"We could not be happier with the location of a campus for Salt Lake Community College," said Nicole Martin, Herriman's economic development director. "We are perfectly situated to support the needs of the students coming to this new campus."

The proposed site ties into transportation lines, commercial and residential developments and proposed public school sites, she said.

Few communities have grown as fast as Herriman, and a college campus would be a crowning amenity for a city that had fewer than 800 residents when it incorporated 10 years ago. It is now home to 21,000 people, with more development on the way.

A year ago, the property owner, whom officials declined to identify out of deference to the donor's wishes, signaled a willingness to give part of a 90-acre tract for a college campus.

The site is adjacent to the Mountain View Corridor, around 5400 West and 12000 South on the border with South Jordan. It is next to the new Herriman High School, which opens this fall, and sites of future elementary and middle schools.

"You can see a tremendous educational hub in Herriman city," said state Rep. Carl Wimmer, who represents Herriman and surrounding communities. "It's a wonderful opportunity when you have someone willing to donate so much land. Not only does it make for exciting possibilities, it makes for a fiscally responsible option."

A proposed TRAX line and stop location also abut the property, while high-density apartment complexes have gone up nearby.

In recent weeks, college and city officials, state representatives and developers reached an agreement with the landowner to transfer the land. Under the proposed deal, the state would purchase two-thirds of the tract and the rest would be donated, according to Mason Bishop, SLCC's vice president for institutional advancement.

Like Herriman, SLCC is experiencing rapid growth, now boasting the state's largest undergraduate population. Last fall its student body enrollment reached nearly 34,000; students attend classes at 14 locations scattered around the county.

The school has become one of the nation's largest comprehensive community colleges, currently ranked No. 4 in the production of associate degrees.

The school has major campuses in Salt Lake City and Taylorsville and is developing a Jordan health-science campus at 9000 S. Bangerter Highway. The Herriman campus could be home to the college's green technology programs, with construction beginning in two or three years if the Legislature authorizes the land deal this year, Bishop said.

Bishop called the proposed campus a "win-win for everybody," but the rub will be securing taxpayer money to finance the deal, given challenging economic times and budget constraints.

"Tough decisions have to made," Wimmer said. "Will it be difficult to come up with $20 million? I believe so, but we should not give up on the idea."