Sunday, September 20, 2009

UAlbany Dorm Timeline

April 2008 Facilities News, a newsletter issued by the Office of Facilities Management at UAlbany describes $123 million in new capital support for the uptown and downtown campuses from the 2008-2009 State Budget. Among the projects the University University was "New Bed Construction - the University is exploring the construction of perhaps 500 to 1,000 new residence hall beds. Partial funding is earmarked to initiate planning and design of apartment style beds on or near campus."
July 14, 2008 Kick-off of the Capital Plan Generic Environmental Impact Statement project with its consultant O'Brien and Gere.
September 4, 2008 UAlbany and O'Brien and Gere send a notification letter to officials. The letter states that UAlbany was proposing 17 projects, including "1. Student Housing Project - Construction of new student housing facilities with approximately 500 apartment-style beds. They also indicated that, unless they heard an objection, that they would assume responsibility for the preparation of the Impact Statement required by the State Environment Quality Review law.
Government officials that received this letter included:
Hon. Gerald Jennings, Mayor
Hon. Michael Breslin, County Executive
Robert Cross, Commissioner, Water Department
Michael Yevoli, Commissioner, Department of Development and Planning
Hon. Sandra Fox, Common Council 15th Ward
Hon. Shawn Morris, Common Council President
Frank J. Commisso, County Legislature – District 12
William M. Clay, County Legislature – District 13
Mary Lou B. Connolly, County Legislature – District 32

No objection from these officials were apparently received.

November 13, 2008 Meeting with the McKownville Improvement Association about the Capital Construction Plan. No other similar meetings were held.
November 28, 2008 Feasibility Study and Options Analysis for New Student Housing report prepared by S/L/A/M Architects P.C. For UAlbany
January 23, 2009 Legal announcement in the Times Union. It described a scoping meeting for development of the Environmental Impact Statement. The notice referred to "a listing of capital projects" as the topic of the meeting. There was no community outreach beyond this notice, and no mention of dormitories.
March 10, 2009 Public meeting held with four attendees, three of which were McKownville residents and the fourth was a student. There was no contact whatsoever with Eagle Hill residents - those most affected by the dormitory project.
May 2009 Appearance of surveyors from C. T. Male on Tudor Road properties in May, 2009. When asked who they were working for, they said “The University”. When we contacted Facilities Management, we were told that there were no plans for development of the parcel.
In viewing the UAlbany and Dormitory Authority websites, we found that UAlbany had already conducted a feasibility study for student housing, started its Generic Environmental Impact Statement Process, held public hearings without attendance from our neighborhood, and through the Dormitory Authority, was procuring architectural services for the construction of 2 five-story towers with 500 beds and 250 parking spaces.
We contacted Councilman Dan Herring about this appalling lack of communication from the University about a construction project that seriously harms the quiet, residential character of this neighborhood. He sent a letter to President Philip, and the response was that there were no firm plans, and that the neighbors would have an opportunity to comment in the fall.
September, 17, 2009 We are here at this public meeting today, after two days notice.


  1. Steve, in fairness there was a greater-than-two-day notice for the 9/17 meeting, in that we had a letter a week or so before from UA that there would be one. Then there were two distributions of announcements, the one from UA being the one on our mailboxes two days beforehand. Not that that really changes the inescapably dismissive way the first meetings and follow-up letters were handled.

    Bob Westphal

  2. I'd like to clarify the notice provided by the University. I first received notice from Pia Lascaris on August 31st. I forwarded this message to our e-mail addresses.

    An e-mail from John Giarrusso arrived on September 1st. It was sent to the four people that signed our earlier letter from the neighborhood.

    A number of people, including Pia, James Kellerhouse, Nancy Harrigan and I made up flyers, and walked them around Tudor, Clarendon, Oxford and Cambridge Roads.

    The reason I said notice by the University was provided on the 15th is that flyers were distributed by the University itself on that date for the residents on Tudor and Clarendon. I wanted to identify when the University itself did its outreach to our community, not our own efforts.

    Steve Sokal