SUNY enrollment is up for the first time in a decade, but several campuses are struggling financially, leading to rolling back programs available and leaving some buildings unused.

Watertown-area state Assemblyman Scott Gray has a bill that would require taking inventory of all SUNY buildings to determine their futures.

“As a state, we have to understand this issue statewide, what the magnitude of the issue is,” he said.

He said the unused buildings are costing money to keep up.

“You have to maintain them, you have to keep them up, so it is a drain on precious resources,” he said.

His solution is to catalog all SUNY structures to determine their condition and usefulness, and if they are no longer serving the system well, develop a plan as far as what should happen next.

“This is to try to get campuses and institutions focused on their core mission, and have the state, in the event that there is a severe issue here, to look at these structures and determine what the future of this structure is,” he said.

We asked SUNY officials if this bill was something they were open to or something that is even necessary. They told Spectrum News 1 they are still reviewing it.

What they did say is they are already taking this sort of action when needed. Earlier this year, the state Legislature approved moving a local high school into an unused part of one of Buffalo State’s buildings, while an innovative senior living complex is playing a similar role at Purchase College.

“Campuses have a lot of responsibility in making sure they are constantly fresh looking and some of these buildings might just be past their useful life,” Gray said.

He told Spectrum News 1 that there are multiple paths forward, including passing the legislation, or SUNY stepping in and completing a review themselves.

“I have no pride of authorship of this bill,” he said. “As long as the objective is completed that’s all that is important to me.”

Gray said it’s also possible that the governor could take this up and include it in her 2024 state budget proposal.

According to his proposal, unusable buildings would ideally be demolished while for other buildings it would depend on the location but the expectation would be something similar to what SUNY is already doing. One proposal he mentioned was additional space for local BOCES classes or other local school district needs.