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Gateway Plaza to improve entrance to the city

The awkward landscaping of the park, said Gillen, led to the need for a redesign.

"Right now the current park " there are these strange hills and mounds of dirt that make it very difficult and costly to maintain that make the green space really unusable," said Gillen. "Mowing them is very difficult, and maintaining the park is very difficult. It is a very bad design."

Another key component, said Gillen, is the county buying the vacant garage at 101 Washington Ave. next to the park. The building's poor condition is a hindrance to future development in the area, and isn't a positive element to see entering the community, he said.

"It is just a real mess, and the goal would be expanding Liberty Park and the student housing complex and really renovate that area downtown around SCCC," said Gillen. "As long as I have been around, it has been hardly operational or closed. You can't have that kind of building in the entrance to the community."

To purchase the property, the county will spend $140,000 and state funding will cover half the cost of purchasing and demolishing the service station. The proposed student housing is planned to be next to the former garage site, and talks are ongoing.

"The Board of Trustees and the college administration continue to make favorable progress with the student housing project. Currently, we are still researching our options in this regard, but the recent plans as announced to improve the Gateway Plaza certainly will help," said Quintin Bullock, president of SCCC, in an email. "Already, SCCC brings in tens of millions of dollars in added revenue to the county. Having a housing component will benefit the region further by having more college students become regular residents of the community near the college, utilizing local businesses and adding socially to the area."

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