Janesville74.1°

BTC eyes land purchase

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FRANK J. SCHULTZ
December 15, 2010
— Blackhawk Technical College is seeking to buy 33 acres next door to its central campus. The BTC Board will take up the issue at its meeting Wednesday night.

The land would be "an ideal site" for BTC's proposed Traffic Safety Center, according to a memo to the board from BTC Director of Finance Renea Ranguette.


The center has been discussed since at least 2007. It would include a paved track where police, firefighters and operators of large equipment could learn specialized driving skills.


The property is north of the central campus. It is bordered by County G to the east, Sunny Lane to the north and Rock Valley Community Programs—the former Caravilla Nursing Home—to the west. It surrounds but does not include Don's Lawn & Garden Care.


The owner of the property is Art Donaldson, Ranguette said.


BTC had been looking at several sites but appears to have settled on this one. BTC President Tom Eckert said the location along the existing campus best serves the college's future needs.


Ranguette said the land is now leased for farming.


No purchase price has been set. Ranguette said the board on Wednesday will be asked to set parameters for Eckert to negotiate the purchase.


Whether Eckert can seal the deal, or whether the board would have to vote to approve it, are other questions the board will take up Wednesday, Ranguette said.


The BTC budget has $400,000 designated for the purchase of land for a Traffic Safety Center, Ranguette said.


If the board decides to move forward with the center, Ranguette said she hopes planning could begin in the spring, with construction starting about a year later.


The Wisconsin Technical College System requires an environmental impact statement with public hearings and a public-comment period, Ranguette said.


Ranguette said a zoning change probably also would be required.


BTC drew up plans in 2008 to build the track and a classroom/storage building on the grounds of the Southern Wisconsin Regional Airport. But that deal fell through, and neighbors on Janesville's south side objected, citing noise concerns.


Ranguette said if the track were built next to BTC there would be no need for a building to house classrooms and for storage, because the existing building could handle that.


ON THE AGENDA

The Blackhawk Technical College Board meets at 7 p.m. today in the boardroom of the Administrative Center at BTC's central campus, 6004 S. County G.


Also at tonight's meeting, the board will be asked to approve the lease of 12,000 square feet at Beloit's Eclipse Center. The annual cost would be $70,000, said Renea Ranguette, director of finance.


An estimated $670,000 would be needed to convert the space to instructional labs and classrooms.


BTC already leases 15,000 square feet at the Eclipse Center, but that space is at capacity, according to a memo from Ranguette to the board.


Beloit Center enrollments have "soared," according to the memo, to more than 1,700 full- or part-time students last year, which equates to a full-time equivalent of 164.


The added space would help expand programming to include courses for the nursing-assistant, licensed practical nurse and pharmacy technician programs.


"The nursing assistant program has an approximate wait list of 350 students, while the nursing program list has 922 students who will be petitioning for admission into the program," according to the memo.


The new bachelor's degree nursing program that BTC is running in cooperation with UW-Oshkosh and UW-Rock County also requires more space, the memo says.



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