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College to begin construction on new, energy efficient home for ADK Watershed Institute

PAUL SMITHS - Paul Smith's College will build a new, energy-efficient building as the home of its Adirondack Watershed Institute (AWI), college officials announced last week.

The building, to be known as the Countess Alicia Spaulding-Paolozzi Environmental Research and Education Center, will be built to LEED standards and designed to reflect the historic nature of its location.

Originally, the college had planned to complete an historic renovation of the recently-razed Harriman Cottage, and turn that into the AWI's new home. Instead, the new building will stand where Harriman is now, alongside Lower St. Regis Lake. Construction is expected to begin in 2009 and be complete later in the year.

The economy, spiraling construction costs and a difficult fundraising environment were the main factors leading to the change, which has been approved by the college's Board of Trustees.

The cost of restoring the aging lakeside building, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, had climbed $1.5 million, or 40 percent, over initial estimates - an insurmountable figure, especially considering that the college was still $500,000 short of reaching its original goal of $2.6 million to restore the cottage.

"This was a very difficult decision, and we didn't take it lightly," said John W. Mills, president of Paul Smith's College. "Frankly, it's not what we would have preferred to do. But Harriman has fallen into grave disrepair, and the economy is forcing us to make tough choices on how to spend our money."

The new building will be designed, built and operated with the college's commitment to sustainability in mind, Mills said.

"Attaining LEED certification for this building is among our highest priorities, so we can protect the environment while conserving water and reducing our carbon footprint," he said.

The watershed institute currently has no permanent headquarters, and the lack of space has prevented it from buying and installing specialized research equipment that it needs to carry out larger-scale projects.

Construction of the Spaulding-Paolozzi Center is an important step toward ensuring that the AWI can continue its mission of providing the Adirondacks with expert water-quality research and outreach.

The AWI leads such efforts as the Watershed Stewardship Program, which leads educational programs and puts stewards at area waterways to help ensure that invasive species are kept at bay. It also conducts research to monitor the health of Adirondack waters and develops solutions to keep those waters healthy.

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