November 28, 2007

Environmental Study to Examine Milstein

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The physical appearance and visual impact of the proposed Milstein Hall are among the issues that Cornell may have to evaluate as part of an environmental impact study for the project.
The City of Ithaca’s Planning and Development Board is working with Cornell to determine the scope of the environmental impact study that the University must complete to move the Milstein Hall project forward.
Last night, at the board’s public scoping session, Prof. Martin Hatch, music, a resident of the Town of Dryden, voiced concern about Milstein Hall becoming an “environmental sore spot” that does not fit in with the surrounding buildings.
He urged the board to value the public good over “the fulfillment of architectural ego.”
While Hatch was the only resident who spoke at the open session, which was widely advertised to the public, the board will accept written public input until Dec. 7.
Following the brief public session, project representative Kim Michaels presented the board with several potential additions to the environmental study. She suggested the study should evaluate the impact that Milstein Hall’s proposed cantilever, extending over University Avenue, will have on daytime and nighttime lighting of the surrounding area and the adjacent Foundry.
Several board members also introduced issues they wished to include in the study.
Planning Board Member Jane Marcham ’51 said Cornell should look not only at how the building will compare to surrounding and adjacent buildings, but also examine how the project will fit into the Arts Quad, an historical entity itself.
Tim Cullenen, also a member of the board, expressed concern about the impact the building would have on views from specific residences.
The University will not be independently soliciting public input for the project aside from municipal public hearings, according to Andrew Magre, a project manager in Cornell’s Planning, Design and Construction department.
“This is the vehicle for public comment, but here has been a lot of input for the building within the College,” he said.
The University has sought significant input from its internal committees, Magre added.
“This will be a continued process of cooperating with the municipality and allowing the public to have a voice,” Michaels said. “This process is really focusing on making sure that we’re being environmentally responsible.”
The Planning Board is expected to approve exactly what needs to go into the environmental impact statement next month. The University will then produce a draft environmental impact study that the board must consider adequate before proceeding to create a final study.
Michaels estimated that the entire environmental approval process will take approximately six months.