In a last-minute vote on Tuesday evening, the Suffolk County Legislature approved $2 million in additional funding to build a sports and fitness center at Suffolk County Community College’s Eastern Campus.

The additional funding was needed after bids that came in following numerous delays were $4 million dollars higher than estimated, said Drew Biondo, director of communications at Suffolk County Community College. The higher bids are the result of an improving economy and an upsurge in construction, he said.

The college requested and was granted a Certificate of Necessity from County Executive Steve Bellone to ensure that the vote would be taken before the deadline for the state budget, which is April 1. Had they not received the Certificate of Necessity, they would have had to wait until the next meeting of the legislature and the project would have been delayed further.

The resolution was initially voted down, but after Legis. Lou D’Amaro (D-North Babylon) received new information — which he told the presiding officer might change his vote — a revote was ordered. The resolution passed on the second vote and the paperwork was immediately sent to the state.

Because SCCC is both a county and state institution, Suffolk County is required to provide half of the funding and once they commit to do so, the state would have to provide the other half.

If the money is included in the state budget, construction will begin within 30 days of receipt of funds, Suffolk County Community College spokesperson Drew Biondo said. Estimated construction time is about a year, he said. The facility could be open as soon as next summer.

The $20.9 million 48,000-square-foot facility will feature an eight-lane competition and diving pool with spectator seating, aerobic and weight training rooms and a floor-to-ceiling rock climbing wall. It will be available for use by county residents and local governments, making it the first public athletic and fitness facility of its kind in the five East End towns. It will also be the first indoor Olympic-sized swimming pool open to the public on the East End.

The building’s 13,500-square-foot gymnasium will be able to accommodate a regulation basketball court, two volleyball courts and six badminton courts. There will also be a three-lane running/walking track around the perimeter of the gym.

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