GARDEN CITY - Nassau Community College students are caught in the middle of a funds-related showdown between Democratic lawmakers and Republican County Executive Ed Mangano.
Student Elizabeth Sloane says that from the cracked asphalt in the parking lot to the heating system that failed last winter, evidence of disrepair is everywhere on campus. Half of a ramp for students with disabilities near North Hall had to be decommissioned because it is falling apart, according to NCC construction director Scott Brugge.
The college, for its part, acknowledges as much and is asking the county for more than $17 million for necessary infrastructure improvements.
County Executive Mangano and the Republican majority of the Legislature support a bond measure that would provide funding. Democrats do too, but only if safeguards are put in place to ensure the funds go solely to the college and cannot be used to plug other holes in the county's budget.
"The language we suggested ensures that the students of the college are protected and if the administration has no intention to spend the money elsewhere, including this language should be no big deal," Legislature Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams says in a statement.
Meanwhile, as the two sides remain at a political impasse, the college is caught in the crossfire.
"We really desperately need these dollars," says Kate Murray, the NCC director of governmental affairs. "We're counting on our legislators to be the great cheerleaders for the college that they've always been."
Mangano spokesperson Brian Nevin says the administration will not change the language of the deal to include the aforementioned safeguards, even though there are no plans to use the funding for anything else. Nevin says that is under the instruction of the Nassau Interim Finance Authority, which oversees the county's finances. He adds that Democrats are "playing political games."