MCC expansion doomed without Larson, Walters?

Updated 4/10/2013 6:42 PM
  • Molly Walsh

    Molly Walsh

  • Barbara Walters

    Barbara Walters

The proposal for a $42 million health sciences building at McHenry County College may be dead because of a major turnover on the board that will follow Tuesday's election.

Two longtime board members who supported the expansion project were not re-elected, while three newcomers, all of whom announced opposition to the plan during the campaign, were voted in. Trustee Dennis Adams did not run for re-election to the board.

The health science center, as proposed, would include a public fitness club as well as classroom and lab space for the college's nursing program. The board has suggested paying for the project with alternative revenue bonds, which do not require taxpayer approval.

Barbara Walters, a 30-year veteran of the board, and Carol Larson, who was elected in 1989, both supported the plan. But voters chose newcomers Molly Walsh, Chris Jenner and Thomas Wilbeck over the veterans, according to unofficial results.

Jenner and Wilbeck were adamantly opposed to the $42 million expansion project and Walsh disagreed with the proposal as it was presented, if not in theory.

Walsh, Tuesday's highest vote-getter, said MCC's nursing labs do need some help, but she does not think a $42 million building is the answer. She also said she objects to borrowing, which could be done without voter approval, but taxpayers would be on the hook for repaying the loan.

"The community needs to vote on it if in fact they're going to build to that extent," Walsh said, adding that she wouldn't be surprised if the project were tabled once the feasibility study is submitted and a new board has the chance to consider it.

Walters would not comment Wednesday on whether her support for the expansion doomed her re-election bid. She said she has no regrets about her years of service and plans to continue being involved with the college.

"I have had the honor and the pleasure of seeing the college grow to the stage that it is now," Walters said. "I am pleased to have been part of the decision making that has made it possible."

Larson could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Voters also passed up Mike Smith, Arne Waltmire and William Scott Alford in the board of trustees race.

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