Port Huron Times Herald—What was a good idea in June 2015 has gotten better. The ultimate outcome of the series of moves that began with St. Clair County Community College’s proposal to buy the McMorran Pavilion from the city of Port Huron may look different than what the community debated last summer and fall. The final products — the college field house and a new allied health science school — will still be tremendous additions to downtown Port Huron that will serve the college, its students, and taxpayers better than existing facilities.
The college had proposed building a $16 million addition to its North Building to create a new space to teach nursing and other health careers. Doing that required demolishing its outdated and inadequate gymnasium, which would no longer be needed because of the acquisition of the McMorran Pavilion.
The pavilion was the controversy piece of the puzzle. The Port Huron Minor Hockey Association opposed the loss of its home ice and feared the damage that could do to youth hockey programs and the International Silver Stick tournament. In the months since City Council approved the sale, we’ve learned that the demise of both had been greatly exaggerated.
Meanwhile, the conversion of the pavilion into multi-purpose field house is well underway, with an October opening expected. Take a peek if you are downtown and notice a door open. With months of work to go, the transformation already is amazing.
Meanwhile, athletes are still practicing in the poorly ventilated and undersized gym. Not for long, though, because the college still plans to demolish the building although it no longer needs the space for the health careers site.
Instead, SC4 has determined that remodeling its under-used A.J. Theisen building, at the southeast corner of the campus, is a better investment. College officials say that can be accomplished with a lower price tag —$10 million instead of $16 — and more quickly than a new structure. The college expects half the $10 million cost will be covered by state capital funds and the remainder would be covered by SC4.
The job market for nurses and other health careers remains one of the strongest in Michigan. Being able to meet the educational needs of future nurses sooner, better and less expensively is a smart move.