Tompkins Cortland Community College holds groundbreaking for childcare center

A 3D rendering of the childcare center at Tompkins Cortland Community College (photo provided)

DRYDEN, N.Y. — A groundbreaking event on Wednesday, May 30, marked the ceremonial start of the latest construction project at Tompkins Cortland Community College – the Arthur Kuckes Childcare Center. College officials were joined by Arthur and Martha Kuckes, members of the Tompkins Cortland Community College Foundation board, local government officials, a representative from Senator James Seward’s office, and other community members in celebrating the milestone. Construction work on the new center is underway with an expected completion by the end of 2018.

The Arthur Kuckes Childcare Center will replace the College’s current childcare center and greatly enhance the capabilities to serve students and the community.

“A little more than three years ago we dreamed up this project for a new childcare center,” said Childcare Center Director Johanna Hartnett. “Little did we think it would become a reality.”

Funding for the $6.5 million project has been secured, largely through a lead gift from Kuckes, $1 million dollars in New York State funds secured by Senator Seward and Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton, and other support from the community.

“We owe thanks to so many people, starting with Arthur and Martha Kuckes, who have done so much for the College,” said Provost and Vice President of the College John Conners. Conners also thanked President Emeritus Carl Haynes for his leadership when the project was conceived, the state representatives for securing funding, and the College’s Board of Trustees for supporting the project. “Every day we look out and see another element of how are moving forward in our commitment to serving the community, and we are so excited.”

The new center will be located near the main entrance to the College, in a very visible location for anyone on campus. It will nearly triple the capacity of the current facility to 80 children while also expanding the age-range served to include infants. In addition to serving the needs of College to make an education accessible to everyone, including parents of young children the Center will also provide real-life learning opportunities for students in the College’s Early Childhood academic program. The expansion of the age range served to include infants will also be a significant addition for the community.

“Years ago, Susan Lesser (Childcare Campaign Steering Committee member) and Sue Dale-Hall (Chief Executive Officer, Child Development Council) were saying how we need to increase infant and toddler child care in our area, and the College would be a perfect place to do it,” said Board of Trustees Chairman Ray Schlather. “Over time Carl (Haynes) and the Board kept it in mind, and now it is becoming a reality. It happened because of the dream of the people in the community, the Foundation making it a priority, and the generosity of Arthur and other donors. This is an extremely happy day for all of us.”

While the funding for the construction has been secured, the Foundation will continue the fundraising campaign to raise money for equipment purchases and to create an operating endowment. “This new Center is about supporting families in the community,” said Childcare Steering Committee Chair Carol Travis. The Center gives priority to students at the College, but it also open to any member of the community, something that is expected to continue and grow with the new Arthur Kuckes Childcare Center.