Thursday, May 26, 2011 at 11:57 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, May 26,
2011 at 11:57 p.m.
sent University of South Florida Polytechnic officials into a celebration
Thursday afternoon as cellphones rang in the good news during a meeting, said
Gene Engle, USF trustee and USF Poly campus board chair. No one minded the
interruptions for the news.
are extremely pleased, and it is so rewarding to so many people who have worked
very, very hard to have this approved by the governor," Engle said. "This gives
us the opportunity of going forward with building the first major building on
our new campus, and we are very, very excited about it."
total of $18 million for other projects in Polk County was cut.
Poly officials have watched closely, hoping for approval of the money that will
enable them to begin construction of the main campus on land at the eastern
junction of Interstate 4 and the Polk Parkway.
school's budget requests did suffer some trimming, though Regional Chancellor
Marshall Goodman had said he anticipated that.
cut $10 million for a USF Health School of Pharmacy at USF Poly, and a $1
million request an interdisciplinary center at the school.
of those items were on the Florida TaxWatch's "turkey" list, created annually to
identify projects the business-backed group deems not well-vetted.
Scott, in his official letter outlining the items vetoed, noted the demand for
access to higher-education programs and the need for training high-tech workers.
He said he supported "some investments" in higher education.
example, the new campus at USF Polytechnic will focus on the important high-tech
fields of the future," his letter said. "The polytechnic concept ensures that
graduates in degree programs outside of the Science, Technology, Engineering and
Mathematics (STEM) areas will have training and education in those areas and
develop skills applicable to the 21st century economy. Additionally, the
construction of this campus will allow the state university system to continue
to meet the growing demand for access."
Poly students welcomed Thursday's news.
were all watching our computers today saying, ‘Is it going to happen? Is it
going to happen?'?" said Kathryn Bevilacqua, USF Poly's Student Government
21, of Lakeland, said the funding for the school will be a key element in making
it successful for students. The curriculum provided by the university was the
prime reason she wanted to attend.
an amazing moment, I think," she said of Scott's decision. "It's something we
have all been waiting for."
money USF Poly is getting will be used to build a science-and-technology
at the new campus will start in the fall of 2012, Goodman said in a statement
Thursday. The school currently shares a campus with Polk State College in
Poly's new campus will be an economic driver for the state and falls right in
line with the governor's priorities of getting Florida back to work by creating
an additional 36,610 jobs and an estimated annual economic impact of $3.2
billion," he said.
only can plans move on, now donations may get rolling, Engle said.
going to make a big difference in recruiting additional funding from the private
sector, because everyone wants to see things once they there's some substance,"
he said. "So many things have been announced in Polk County over the years that
never came to fruition — people say they'll wait and see."
people will be able to see things happening at the campus site, he said.
are going to build an observation deck with all artist renderings, and people
can stand there and actually see the buildings going up," he said.
said that while it's a shame the USF Poly pharmacy plan was vetoed, "We got the
week, the school also received enough in local donations to allow it to move
ahead with the first phase of one vetoed project — the Interdisciplinary Center
for Excellence and Wellness Research, Marshall said. Those donations included $5
million from the Central Florida Development Council and $5 million from an
anonymous donor — both of which are eligible for matching state money totaling
veto list polished off all the $18 million in money for Polk that TaxWatch
called turkeys. The others were:
Polk State College Institute for Public Safety request for $2 million was
denied. Spokesman David Steele said school officials are still analyzing the
long- and short-term impacts on the college of the governor's actions. "We are
focused on delivering high-quality undergraduate degrees and workforce
training," he said. "The state needs us to do that now, more than ever. Our
county's public-safety training and education needs aren't going away, so it's
likely this project will remain on the radar."
items involving water projects were axed — Frostproof's $1.95 million for a
wastewater project loan repayment and a USF Poly request for a $3.3 million for
the Winter Haven Peace Creek watershed. That would have been a joint project
with the city of Winter Haven.
vetoed was $25,000 for the Florida Aquaculture Association.
$500,000 allocation for the Polk County botanical gardens was denied. It was to
be used at the former Cypress Gardens site where Legoland is slated to open in
the fall. Legoland General Manager Adrian Jones said the company was
disappointed. "We believe the gardens are a shared responsibility for all
parties, and we will continue to seek willingness from other