The number of students at the North Haven campus of Gateway Community College this fall will drop to fewer than a hundred — compared to at least 3,000 students who had previously studied there — as Gateway Community College continues to centralize its operations on its new campus in downtown New Haven.
“It’s creepy empty,” said Theresa Kasun, an educational assistant on the on Friday. “It’s haunting.”
“We’re a small crew,” said Kasun, who serves with the Center for Sustainable Energy on a campus that sits back from Bassett Road. “You wander aimlessly through the corridors.”
Kasun said the student parking lot was empty, and that she felt herself lucky if the lot reserved for faculty and staff had a half dozen cars.
The new campus in downtown New Haven, which cost $198 million, opens Aug. 29. Classes begin on all Gateway campuses Sept. 4.
Only the laboratories for the school’s automotive program and the Center for a Sustainable Future, complete with its array of solar panels, remain on the North Haven property.
“Gateway Community College is leasing back the space used by the two remaining programs and will vacate the North Haven campus entirely once a new, closer location is determined for them,” said Evelyn Gard, a spokesperson for Gateway. “Currently, there is serious discussion about remodeling the Long Wharf campus to accommodate them.”
“Ideally, within a perfect situation, it would happen within a year.”
Gard noted that, prior to the centralized location Gateway now has, a number of Gateway students had classes on both the North Haven and Long Wharf campuses.
“Having a campus 10 miles apart was difficult for the students. Very few were completely self-contained,” she said. “Both campuses were packed.”
Gard said four percent of the student body at Gateway came from North Haven last year.
And although rumors have circulated that another educational entity is interested in the state-owned site, Elaine Clark, vice president for facilities and infrastructure planning at the Board of Regents, was quick to quash them. She said she knew of no lease or memo of understanding for the vacant space on the property, although she thought it wise to double-check with an administrator at Gateway.
“Nothing,” said Dean of Administration Lou D’Antonio, when asked if another educational group had approached the college.
“It’s all conjecture at this point,” said of the future of the campus property.
He said one possible use of the property was as a site for a middle school, although that option, he said, was down the road.
David N. Cooper, Ph.D., heads the Center for Sustainable Energy, and he arrived on the North Haven campus Friday afternoon. “It is empty,” he confirmed.
Still, he said, “We’ve been able to get an additional room, and that will help a lot.”
Gateway Community College has operated since 1992.