Tuesday, October 26, 2010

UAlbany drops sewer hookup plan

Published: 12:00 a.m., Tuesday, October 26, 2010

ALBANY -- As construction begins at the site of the University at Albany's new 500-bed dormitory, school officials have given up on a controversial plan to connect the two five-story buildings' sewer system to Albany's aging infrastructure and a pump station along the Krumkill Creek.

UAlbany originally planned to link the new apartment-style dorm to older sewer lines along Western Avenue that lead to the Woodville pump station.

But that plan sparked concerns that the added volume might increase bacteria spilling into the Krumkill during heavy storms, when the pump station is allowed to overflow a certain amount into the Hudson River tributary according to an agreement with the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

The plan also triggered worries that the added volume could exacerbate sewer backups in homes downstream in the city -- a problem DEC has ordered the city to remedy.

Karl Luntta, a UAlbany spokesman, confirmed that the university has decided not to connect to the city's Western Avenue sewers but said UAlbany still believes its plan, which centered on making repairs to the sewer pipes to mitigate the impact of the new volume, would have succeeded.

"We assessed our options," Luntta said. "Certainly there were questions that were being asked, and we do believe that we were in the right place."

The two most likely alternatives are connecting to the town of Guilderland's sewer system, also along Western Avenue, or pumping the sewage north directly to Albany's newer Patroon Creek sewer along Washington Avenue -- both of which would be more costly for UAlbany to maintain.

Luntta said the university hasn't decided which it favors.

Guilderland Supervisor Ken Runion said the town has discussed the possibility of connection with UAlbany -- including an estimated $338,000 mitigation fee the school would have to pay the town to make up for the increased burden on the system.

The fight over the sewer system was the last battle in neighbors' efforts to scuttle the dorm project amid fears it would also cause surface flooding, traffic, noise and other problems on Tudor Road, which is adjacent to the construction site on the campus' southeastern corner near the Boor Sculpture Studio.

To allay some of those fears, UAlbany has amended its plans for the $60 million project, funding permitting, to include rooftop vegetation in parts of the complex, as well as rain gardens and the strategic use of permeable pavement in the new 350-space parking lot -- all to reduce the amount of water flowing off the site and into storm sewers.

Neighbors also protested clearing of the land -- more than a dozen wooded acres, including nearly 3.5 acres of the Harriman State Office Campus.

That work has already begun. This fall, workers will focus on building a berm to shield neighbors from the two five-story buildings and preparations to move the campus ring road, University Drive, some 450 feet east of its current location.

The dorm is expected to open in August 2012.

Reach Jordan Carleo-Evangelist at 454-5445 or jcarleo-evangelist@timesunion.com.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Found Cat!


Grey, female cat with yellow eyes
Found on Cambridge Road off Western Avenue on 6/13/10

She is having trouble walking

Taken to Hudson-Mohawk Humane Society
Fax: (518) 434-0217
Email: information@mohawkhumane.org

Take exit 6 off I-787
Turn right (north) on Broadway (Route 32)
Go approx. 1/2 mile
Before the first light, make right on Oakland Ave.
Take Oakland to its end

What are community concerns?

I received an e-mail from a neighbor that they had found a lost and possibly injured cat, and asked if I would put a notice on this blog.

As you can tell from the postings to date, I have been writing about the actions of our very large neighbors - UAlbany and and the Harriman Office Campus.  The effects of their actions directly affect the quiet enjoyment of our homes and neighborhood.  Describing their actions has also been important, because UAlbany and the Harriman take years in doing anything.  It is difficult to keep track of where we stand, and what we can do at an appropriate time.  That was my intent for this blog.

The problem is that the message conveyed by making some postings is that you only hear about the big issues - issues that do not quickly go away and where the gains are ambiguous.  I may be able to help in this situation.  But, we shouldn't defined just by our opposition to the University, but how we care for each other.

So, as small as it seems, here is a notice about a lost cat.  It is a concern for a neighbor, and it's a concern for me as a cat owner.  If you have any concerns about everyday life in our part of Albany, pass them on.  Let me hear about what is important to you.

Steve Sokal

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Caucus Talkus

from Albany Citizen One by albanycitizenone

Just a few things on the agenda...not much of interest so far. There is an issue with the SUNY sewer issue...you know, where the community wants to route the wastewater in a way that SUNY doesn't want to route it. Seems the SUNY secret system involves they contacting all the common council members individually for meetings instead of working in the light of day. Wonder if they are registered with New York Public Integrity.

Seems that MOB nipped that in the bud. They will be invited to an open meeting.

If you're following me on Twitter, you already know that Anton has introduced legislation stating that the Common Council endorses Andrew Cuomo's New NY Plan. uh, hum. Sometimes I deserve a medal for holding back the giggles. The council members haven't even seen the 250 page plan...but he asks them to go on record in support of it...which, essentially, this would indicated that the council endorses Cuomo for Governor...to committee it goes.

The pesticides issue is up and it appears they are appointing an ad hoc committee to review the entire committee. Mr. Conti recommends that Bob Cross and Bill Bruce be involved since they were involved in the original legislation. Ms. McLaughlin is recommeding a 60 day turn around on this task force. Ms. Golby has interest in being on the committee...and MOB volunteers.

Mr. Konev has also introed legislation to tell Yellow Cab how to run their company...ya know, like most-favored drivers get better routes...how many people are fit into a cab. Seems that the college students like to share cabs as they all pay just $3. Well, from the old lady over here...count me out of that enjoyment equation. I've been in cabs thinking a second rider would be a split....nope...the cabbie charged me and the second rider the same fee...$25 to go to the same place.

Okay, the talkus has moved back into the pesticide realm with Rozy saying the info never got to the department. I'm betting the ad hoc committee will be looking at that communication gap. (Well, I would hope.) Mr. Conti says that the law committee should have some role in ensuring that the legislation gets to the director of the department.

Seems that Mr. Freeman wants a report on the city's employees...race, salary, gender, residency....seems there's no such report. Mr. Freeman has seen the information but says that Ms. Sheehan (that's who he says...I'm not sure that's right) will not release the information until he gets a "permission slip" from the leaders of the common council.

So, now the report exists...according to Mr. Freeman but he can't get the report. Ms. McLaughlin says she just needs to talk to Ms. Sheehan to release. Seems there's still no Director of Administration yet either. Hmmm....

Hands in the air. Mr. Bailey wants to know if there is anyway to get information prior to the night that a decision must be made. (He's talking about the Planning Department...and the CDBG funding.) Wonder of wonders...Ms. McLaughlin says that, if we invite the department heads to all the meetings...ya know, and develop relationships, you'll have an easier time getting information proactively.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

UAlbany Response to Albany Common Council on Water Issues

Here is a May 11, 2010 letter from Steve Beditz, UAlbany Interim Vice President to the Honorable Michael O'Brien on water issues.

May 11 Letter to Michael OBrien From Steve Beditz UAlbany

The letter included two attachments from UAlbany consultants.

Storm Water Management Methodology

CT Male Response to Common Council

Mr. O'Brien will be proposing a meeting with UAlbany at an upcoming Common Council meeting.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Sewers the last front in UAlbany dorm battle

Last updated: 11:46 a.m., Tuesday, May 25, 2010

ALBANY -- The University at Albany is pushing ahead with a 500-bed dorm next to Tudor Road and plans to start construction as soon as July despite opponents' lingering concerns that the project could overwhelm part of the city's already tapped-out sewer system.

Neighbors in the Eagle Hill section have fought the project on numerous fronts, airing fears about increased noise and light pollution as well as traffic and water runoff from what's currently about 12 wooded acres southeast of the Boor Sculpture Studio.

That fight, however, has been largely stymied by the fact that -- as a state entity -- UAlbany is exempt from the city's zoning and planning regulations.

The final battle, however, centers on how the two new five-story apartment buildings will connect to the city's sanitary sewer system -- the only aspect of the project over which local officials have any say. The $70 million project also involves moving the university's ring road about 450 feet further east to push the buildings from nearby houses.

UAlbany intends to send its sewage south, toward Western Avenue and the Woodville Pump Station along the Krumkill.

The pump station, however, is part of one of the older sections of Albany's leaky and -- in some cases -- crumbling combined sewer system, which carries storm water and sewage in the same pipes and overflows into the Hudson River and backs up into homes during severe storms.

Opponents of the project, including the chairman of the Common Council committee that oversees the sewer system, fear the increased volume could violate state Department of Environmental Conservation orders not to make the overflows or backups worse.

"They're content to just go ahead and do it and let us pick up the consequences," said Councilman Michael O'Brien, the committee chairman who represents the 12th Ward.

O'Brien wants guarantees that UAlbany, not the city, will be on the hook for any fines or penalties that result from their connection.

Even more, O'Brien wants the university to pay the added expense to pump the sewage up hill to the north toward Washington Avenue and the Patroon Creek sewer system, which is newer and carries sewer and storm water separately.

In an April letter, all 15 members of the council and Council President Carolyn McLaughlin called on the city's Water Board to reject any southern connection to the sewer system.

In response, university Interim Vice President for Finance and Business Stephen Beditz last week wrote O'Brien saying the council's understanding of the project is flawed. He said the university plans to repair sewer lines downstream that will reduce leaks and illegal connections equal to the amount of sewage the project would add.

That condition was recommended by the Water Board's outside engineer, Daniel Hershberg, who told the council he would still prefer that UAlbany pump its sewage north.

But, Hershberg cautioned the lawmakers, the Water Board has no power to force the university to do so -- or reject the application outright for a connection to the system -- so long as UAlbany meets conditions imposed by the board.

John Kosa, assistant commissioner of the city Department of Water and Water Supply, said the city would not require UAlbany to make repairs to the system if it would not be enough to keep the overflows and backups in check.

"We're not going to allow a connection ... unless we know we can do it without impacting the residents," Kosa said. "We're not going to make it worse. We're the ones that have to deal with it, too."

Fifteenth Ward Councilman Frank Commisso Jr., who represents some of the neighborhoods around the campus, said "it doesn't make sense" that the city can conclude that the northern option is preferable but that the law gives it no power to enforce its preference.

"It's just not night," Commisso said. "The unfortunate thing is that a lot of people are going to end up with flooding in their basements because of it."

Hershberg, however, notes that similar mitigation arrangements have been reached with Albany Medical Center and several new developments along New Scotland Avenue and said he thinks opponents of the dorm are just trying to use the city's Water Board as an 11th-hour roadblock.

"They're trying to have the Albany Water Board ... act as their agent to kill the project," he said.

UAlbany's request is pending before the board. No action will be taken until the board gets clearance from the health department, Kosa said.

Meanwhile, UAlbany is planning to begin construction in July. The dorms are scheduled to open in September 2011.

Jordan Carleo-Evangelist can be reached at 454-5445 or by e-mail at jcarleo-evangelist@timesunion.com.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Common Council Letter to Albany Water Board and UAlbany

UAlbany had requested a connection to Albany's sewer lines as part of their Final Environmental Impact Statement. The connection would be to the Woodville Pump Station, which is a heavily used facility. The Krumkill receives not only stormwater runoff from our neighborhood, including the UAlbany Campus, but any overflows from the pump station.

These issues were taken up by Michael O'Brien with the General Services, Health and Environment Committee of Common Council. After conducting its investigation, a letter outlining the issues that the City has with the sewer connection was prepared. The Council members agreed with the findings and signed on.

Here is a letter sent to the Water Board and UAlbany concerning this request.

Water Board Letter

The bottom line here is that the proposed construction and sewer connection, while lowest cost to UAlbany, would harm the City and its residents. Pass the message on!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Harriman board talks continue with Columbia Development

The Business Review (Albany) - by Adam Sichko

The board governing the state’s Harriman office campus in Albany, N.Y., has given a developer more land to work with in the initial stage of a campus overhaul.

In November 2009, Columbia Development Cos. was awarded the rights to redevelop 140 of the 330 acres at the state-owned W. Averell Harriman State Office Campus. The remainder of the Harriman campus will continue to be used by state agencies that employ 7,300 people.

At an April 19 meeting, the Harriman campus’ board voted to give Columbia access of up to 20 of the 140 acres for its first stage of development. Initially, state officials told The Business Review they had planned to give the company between 5 acres and 15 acres to work with.

The state will lease the land to Columbia for about a year, giving the firm the chance to market the site to potential tenants. Terms of the lease are being negotiated.

The intent is for Columbia to eventually buy the initial parcel, and the other acres to be developed, from the state.

The board also voted that high-tech companies will be the only businesses allowed to locate in that parcel.

The votes were taken after the board went behind closed doors to discuss ongoing contract talks with Columbia. The state and Columbia have met four times, most recently last week, said Peter Wohl, president of the Harriman Research and Technology Development Corp.

To date, no memorandums of understanding (MOUs) have been agreed to, Wohl said.

The parcel in question is located next to the state Department of Labor offices on the campus, near Washington Avenue.

According to plans Columbia submitted to the state, a building of between 40,000 square feet and 60,000 square feet would be built once tenants have been secured.

The state is currently going through a mandatory environmental site review process which will likely last for nine months to a year. Groundbreaking cannot begin until the review is complete.

Throughout last decade, the state has pursued an ambitious plan to renovate the campus to attract high-tech companies and build retail shops and residential units. The initiative has stalled repeatedly amid changing state leadership, the recession, tight credit markets and the state’s own financial problems and budget deficits.

The lack of a state budget is the latest hurdle facing the Harriman project. Without a budget, the Harriman board is unable to hire a development adviser or pay for an updated appraisal of the Harriman campus land—a key part to the ongoing negotiations with Columbia.

The development adviser would be retained for two to three years, costing $250,000 in total. Wohl said he is “exploring different ways we can address this,” but he declined to discuss specifics before the board went into executive session.

asichko@bizjournals.com | 518-640-6818

UAlbany meeting regarding student housing project - April 28

UAlbany meeting regarding student housing project - April 28 John Giarrusso

We are sending this e-mail to let you know that the University will hold an information/update meeting with neighbors regarding the construction of the student housing project on WEDNESDAY, APRIL 28, at 7pm. The meeting will be at the SEFCU Arena, Hall of Fame room. This is the same location as prior meetings. The purpose of the meeting is to review the latest site plans and renderings and discuss the project schedule. We hope you can attend.

[Please note that we are sending this e-mail to those residents of Tudor Road who had provided an e-mail address at prior UAlbany information sessions and hearings. A notice will be sent in the mail, as well, to all those who provided a postal address].

John Giarrusso
Associate Vice President - Finance and Business
Facilities Management
University at Albany
(518) 956-8090

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Budget mess stymies Harriman redevelopment

The Business Review (Albany) - by Adam Sichko

The lack of a state budget has prevented officials overseeing the state’s Harriman campus to hire appraisers and advisers in the ongoing redevelopment process.

The state’s 2010-11 fiscal year began April 1 without a budget. The state is operating on bare-bones, emergency spending plans that keep the lights on, until Gov. David Paterson and legislators hammer out a budget.

The lack of money means state officials have been unable to hire a development adviser or an appraiser, per requests for proposals (RFPs) issued earlier this year.

The appraisal, in particular, is key to ongoing negotiations with the developer chosen to work on the campus. The most recent land assessment was done in 2007—before the recession hit.

The board of directors for the W. Averell Harriman State Office Campus was initially scheduled to vote on winning bids this month, but that will no longer happen.

“As soon as there’s a budget, we can go forward with that,” said Peter Wohl, president of the Harriman Research and Technology Development Corp., which runs the Albany, N.Y., campus.

In November 2009, the Harriman board gave Albany-based Columbia Development Cos. the rights to redevelop 140 acres, or about 40 percent, of the 330-acre campus. (For more on the company’s plans, see http://albany.bizjournals.com/albany/stories/2010/02/08/story9.html)

Throughout last decade, the state has pursued an ambitious plan to renovate the campus to attract high-tech companies and build retail shops and residential units. The initiative stalled repeatedly amid changing state leadership, the recession, tight credit markets and the state’s problems with multi-billion-dollar deficits.

The remainder of the Harriman campus will continue to be used by state agencies that employ 7,300 people.
The development adviser will help represent state interests in the ongoing contract negotiations with Columbia, in a retainer-like setup, Wohl said.

The appraisal, meanwhile, is crucial to the negotiations. Harriman land was last appraised before the recession rocked the real estate sector.

“We know the market has changed. Anyone alive with a pulse realizes it’s not as hot as it once was,” Wohl said.

In 2007, the Harriman land was assessed at between $300,000 to $400,000 an acre, Wohl said. He said it won’t be an issue if an updated appraisal reveals the land has lost some of its value.

“We still consider that property and that site some of the most valuable in all of Albany County,” Wohl said. “And regardless of the economic conditions outside, the improvements that will be made to the property will increase the value of the remaining acreage.”

Harriman officials are also seeking to hire a consultant to help with the environmental siting process, called the State Environmental Quality Review Act, or SEQRA. The law requires developers to identify, and address, the “significant environmental aspects” of whatever work is being proposed or permitted. It’s a process that often takes nine to 12 months to finish.

The Harriman board is scheduled to meet on April 19.

asichko@bizjournals.com | 518-640-6818

Friday, January 15, 2010

The Morning After The Big Night

We had a great turnout at the UAlbany Meeting last night of about thirty five residents.

Speakers included

Ira Bloom
Steve Burke
Frank Commisso, Jr.
Joe Cunniff
Kathy Johnson
Ray Moran
Michael O'Brian
Don Reeb
Doug Smith
and myself

You can see the show at:


I also heard that WNYT picked up the meeting last night as well.

If you hadn't had the chance yet, you can still send in written comments to UAlbany until the 22nd.

Here is the contact information:

Errol C, Millington, Director
University At Albany
Office of Campus Planning
1400 Washington Ave
Service Building A Room 107
Albany, NY 12222

(518) 442-3400 Phone
(518) 442-3464 Fax

Under the rules of SEQRA, they'll have to take them and respond to them in their Final Statement.  Remember - if they don't hear your concerns, they won't be answered.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Meeting Tonight on UAlbany Student Housing Project

From the original letter from UAlbany -

A Draft Generic Environmental impact Statement (DGEIS) has been completed and accepted for the proposed action described below. Comments are requested and will be accepted by the contact person until January 22, 2010. A public hearing on the DGEIS will be held January 14, 2010 at the Hall of Fame Room, SEFCU Arena, University at Albany, SUNY campus at 7p.m. Copies of the DGEIS are available on the University at Albany, SUNY web site at: http://www.albany.edu/facilities/dgeis/ and at hard copy repositories located at the University at Albany, SUNY Facilities Management Office and the Main Library on the Uptown Campus,the Guilderland Public Library, and the Hawley Library on the Downtown Campus.

Back to the soapbox -

Please attend this meeting to give voice to your concerns and to hear the concerns of your neighbors!

The meeting tonight should be recorded by a stenographer, and videoed. Under law, UAlbany is obliged to hear all the comments about its proposed action tonight and in any written comments filed by January 22nd.

Based on these comments, the Draft Statement must be revised to answer all expressed concerns to become final. UAlbany expects that this part of the process will be done by the end of February.

The Harriman Research and Development Technology Corporation has made it clear that it won't take any actions, including any land transfers, until UAlbany finishes this Environmental Review Process. This includes both the 3.3 and 11 acre land transfers.

If UAlbany finds 'no significant impact' from its construction program, construction of the Student Housing will begin this spring.

Let UAlbany and HRDTC know that the Student Housing project will have 'significant impact' so that more reasonable development may occur!

Steve Sokal

UAlbany dorm options limited

Harriman development unlikely site, giving Eagle Hill area more weight

First published in print: Thursday, January 14, 2010

Direct Link

ALBANY -- The board charged with overseeing the redevelopment of the Harriman State Office Campus is unlikely to support an 11-acre land transfer to the University at Albany, the only option that school officials said will allow them to move a proposed new dorm farther from nearby homes.

The move means the 500-bed, apartment-style dorm will probably be located on wooded land in the southeast corner of UAlbany's uptown campus, a proposal that has angered neighbors in nearby Eagle Hill who fear increased noise, traffic, flooding and sewer problems.

While stopping short of a formal decision until the university's environmental review process is complete, the board of the Harriman Research and Technology Development Corp. earlier this week indicated it favors a smaller 3.3-acre land transfer that would encroach less on the 330-acre office campus.

The news comes as UAlbany is to host a hearing tonight on the environmental impact of the dorm, along with 12 other projects.

In response to opposition from neighbors and elected officials, the university pitched an alternative to the Harriman board in November that would require about 7.7 more acres of state office campus to allow UAlbany to pull the dorm further from nearby homes. That plan would have also required rerouting a section of the Harriman campus' distinctive ring road.

UAlbany's 11-acre option "less significantly impacts on Tudor Road," said HRTDC Executive Director Peter Wohl, referring to the closest residents, "but it impacts the Harriman campus in a much more severe way ... including the loss of prime developable lands."

The dorm controversy is taking place as HRTDC, a subsidiary of Empire State Development, the state's economic development arm, is pushing ahead with redevelopment of about 140-acres of the Harriman campus as a private high-tech hub.

At the same November meeting where UAlbany made its pitch for the additional 7.7 acres, the board -- which includes UAlbany President George Philip and Mayor Jerry Jennings -- tapped Columbia Development as the preferred developer. The state is negotiating contract details with Columbia.

City officials back redevelopment as a way to get a large chunk of the land, currently tax-exempt, producing revenue for Albany.

Jennings said he understands neighbors' concerns, but he noted that state law requires that UAlbany address them in the environmental review process. He urged residents to take a more holistic view of how the development will benefit Albany.

"The neighbors should think about ... a bigger tax base," said Jennings, who initially proposed the 3.3-acre land transfer as an early way to mitigate their concerns.

He said that while he believes the campus' ring roads should be eliminated to free up more land for development, he doesn't believe it should be done piecemeal.

In a statement, UAlbany said it was "disappointed that our amended proposal ... was not approved" but hailed the board's "conceptual" support for the dorm project using the smaller parcel.

Ultimately, the state Office of General Services, which controls the land, has final say over the transfer. But that is not likely to be an obstacle because OGS Commissioner John Egan is also chairman of the Harriman board.

Meeting today

A public hearing on UAlbany's draft environmental impact statement for the dorm and other projects is scheduled for 7 tonight at the SEFCU Arena.

Jordan Carleo-Evangelist can be reached at 454-5445 or by e-mail at jcarleo-evangelist@timesunion.com.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Recording of the January 11, 2010 Harriman Board Meeting

Here is Albany Community Television's recording of yesterday's Harriman Research and Technology Development Corporation's meeting. (Thank you again, Joe Cunniff! How else could we see what our government is doing?)


The Board considered and rejected the UAlbany proposal to use 11 acres of Harriman Campus land for its dormitory project. The Board was also briefed on ongoing discussions with Columbia Development, and plans for future construction.

The fifty minutes viewing time for the video is worthwhile for any Albany resident to see what is and will be happening in our neighborhood.

NY seeks advisers for Harriman project

The Business Review (Albany)

Direct Link

Harriman board says developer may be picked within 6 weeks

The state is seeking to hire three advisers as it prepares to develop a slice of its Harriman office campus in Albany, N.Y.

State officials said Monday that three requests for proposals, or RFPs, are almost ready to be issued. The board of directors for the Harriman Research and Technology Development Corp. plans to vote on selected proposals in an April meeting.

The RFPs are one of the next steps the state is taking as it prepares almost half of the 330 acres at the W. Averell Harriman State Office Campus for development.

In late November, the campus’ board of directors unanimously awarded Albany-based Columbia Development Cos. the rights to redevelop 140 acres of the campus—a controversial and abrupt decision, in the eyes of developers who lost the bid to overhaul the campus.

The Harriman board met behind closed doors on Nov. 30, 2009, to discuss development plans before emerging to formally vote to adopt Columbia’s vision.

Throughout last decade, the state has pursued an ambitious plan to renovate the campus to lure high-tech companies and build retail shops and residential units. The initiative stalled repeatedly amid changing state leadership, the recession, tight credit markets and the state’s problems with multi-billion-dollar deficits.

The remainder of the Harriman campus will continue to be used by state agencies that employ 7,300 people.

Peter Wohl, president of the Harriman Research and Technology Development Corp., said the state will soon issue RFPs for three needs:

• a development adviser, to assist with site planning, as well as engineering and environmental studies, as needed

• a property appraiser, to calculate new assessments of the Harriman campus that will replace “outdated” property values on file with the state, Wohl said.

• a consultant to help with the environmental siting process, called the State Environmental Quality Review Act, or SEQRA. The law requires developers to identify, and address, the “significant environmental aspects” of whatever work is being proposed or permitted.

“That takes nine to 12 months to complete, so we’re looking to engage someone fairly quickly,” Wohl said at a Monday meeting of the Harriman board.

The board plans to vote on winning bids at an April 12 meeting, its next regularly scheduled session.

Wohl said the state is continuing negotiations with Columbia Development. There is no timeline for finishing those talks.

The state has declined to make public any elements of Columbia’s concept for the Harriman campus, citing an exemption in the state’s Freedom of Information law for ongoing contract negotiations.

Monday, January 11, 2010

HRDTC Turns Down UAlbany Request for use of Harriman Campus Land

At today's meeting of the Harriman Research and Development Technology Corporation, the Board turned down a request by UAlbany to use 11 acres of Harriman Campus land for the location of its housing project.

According to Peter Wohl, President of HRDTC, the responsibility of the Corporation is to obtain the maximum value of the Harriman Campus land. The UAlbany proposal failed to meet his objectives. The University would receive the land in a transfer between state agencies. There would not be any money from the lease or sale of the land.

Additionally, UAlbany use of the land would not produce additional tax revenues for the City of Albany, nor would it further promote the primary goal of HRDTC to further research and development projects in Albany. For these reasons, Mr. Wohl called for rejection of the UAlbany proposal, and the Board agreed with his recommendation.

As a result, UAlbany's alternate plan for the location of the housing project has been rejected. UAlbany will continue development along the property line along the west side of Tudor Road.

I have two comments about the effects of this decision:

Whether it is UAlbany or HRDTC as the responsible agency, the housing project is slated to proceed, despite the concerns of the Eagle Hill neighborhood, UAlbany's preferences, or the opposition of many of our elected officials. The actions of the board of the HRDTC should be brought to the attention of the public and our elected officials.

Second, UAlbany will continue with the only plan that they have prepared at this point. On Thursday night, there will be a meeting to discuss the Environmental Impact Statement that they have prepared. Please read their report, attend the meeting, if possible, or provide your written comments to UAlbany by January 22nd.

We have been successful in reaching UAlbany, and obtaining some respect, and meaningful changes. Please hold onto hope for a better outcome for Eagle Hill!

Steve Sokal