Community members voiced their displeasure with the University’s decision to build a parking garage in a wooded area called Redbud Woods at the intersection of University Ave., Willard Way and Lake St. in a recent letter to President Hunter R. Rawlings III and the members of the board of trustees.
“All of us … are profoundly opposed to the University’s plan to demolish Redbud Woods and install a parking lot,” stated the letter, which 33 organizations and residents, including the 660 Stewart Ave. Co-operative and the Delta Phi Fraternity, signed.
“We’ve heard rumblings of this for awhile,” said 660’s president, Adam November ’03. “We thought there was nothing we could do but now we found out that if the City doesn’t approve it, it might not happen.”
Some members of community, however, say that they had little knowledge of the University’s plans.
“I live across the street from where this is going to be and I just found out about it a week ago,” said Kate Lunde, a resident of University Ave.
According to the letter, the members of the community thought that the plans for the parking lot were tentative. On April 11, they met with Cornell administrators and architects at which point they, “were dismayed to find out that the plans were far from tentative,” the letter stated.
The University, however, says that the community had plenty of opportunity to find out about the parking lot.
“There have been a number of open meetings,” said Henrik N. Dullea ’61, vice president for University relations.
The University’s plan right now is to get rid of most of the parking on West Campus as the West Campus Initiative is put into action.
“I believe we’re questioning whether it’s responsible for the University to redesign West Campus without putting parking in,” Lunde said.
Instead, the University plans to knock down part of Redbud Woods behind 660 and Von Cramm Co-operatives to make up the loss in parking.
“Our privacy is going to be compromised because people will be cutting through our backyard to get to Campus and we’re worried about light and sound pollution,” November said.
The community has similar concerns.
“The uphill side of University Ave. is really the buffer between campus and the neighborhood. The community is worried about the general noise. A lot of people who live here choose to do so because it’s quiet,” Lunde said.
In the letter, the residents proposed quite a few alternatives to putting the parking lot in, including keeping the parking lots on West Campus, or incorporating parking into the new plan, reducing the number of staff only parking spaces and restricting freshmen and sophomores from having cars.
“The hard part,” Lunde said, “is that we’re trying to to work with the University. We’re not making any plans to anything until it becomes clear that they’re not willing to consider other options.”
The University plans to do the same.
“We certainly going to have more conversations with members of the community. This is a plan that will take time for implementation. There is time to talk and we will,” Dullea said.
Still, the residents worry about the University’s plan.
“Some of you will finish your terms and end your involvement with Cornell,” the letter said, addressing the trustees’ tenure as well as Rawlings’ intentions to step down. “However, the parking lot and the damage it will do to out neighborhood, will remain forever.”
Archived article by Freda Ready