Roosevelt Island residents met with officials from Cornell and Manhattan Community Board 8 last night to receive an update on the school's plans to build the CornellTech NYC applied sciences campus on the narrow island in the East River. Cornell offered a few unfolding details about the plan, like a desire to widen the island's occasionally narrow loop road to a width of 32 feet and include bike lanes. The school will also be seeking a zoning change that won't affect the density of Cornell's building plans, but will allow research labs to be incorporated into the buildings. Residents had a lot of concerns related to the imminent transformation of the southern half of the island. A blanket answer that could be applied to all questions was that "everything would be looked into; all things were a possibility; and nothing was being ruled out at this time."
Many of the questions posed to CB8 members and Cornell representatives had to do with the health and safety of the dismantling of the existing Goldwater facility. It's an older building and residents were concerned that asbestos and mold would be a health hazard during demolition. Others were concerned with the timeline of the Goldwater closure, and whether alternative facilities would be ready in time.
Open space and an open campus were also concerns. Of the 12 acre footprint within the loop road, Cornell says that it plans to make 2.5 acres fully public outdoor space. Some residents wondered if Cornell's buildings would be open or available for community use, and Cornell's Kathy Dove, VP of CornellNYC Tech, referred to the open atriums of many of Cornell's upstate campus buildings in response.
Someone asked about the morality of Cornell partnering with Israeli university Technion, at which point the discussion got a little shouty—that's apparently not a land use review discussion too many people wanted to have at the senior center common room on a Tuesday night.
· Big Red Apple coverage [Curbed]