October 29, 2008

Public Reviews Environmental Impact of Milstein

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Moving closer to a final decision on the environmental impact of the proposed Milstein Hall and Central Avenue Parking Garage, the City of Ithaca’s Planning and Development Board is currently soliciting comments from the public regarding the project’s draft Environmental Impact Statement (dEIS).
Members of the public and the Board expressed concerns about and offered clarifications for the dEIS last night in City Hall.
Planning Board member and Cornell employee David Kay voiced concern about the visibility of a proposed bike rack underneath Milstein Hall. He said that the Uni­ver­sity ought to ensure that proper signage directs pedestrians to the location of the bike rack. 
John Schroeder ’74, chair of the planning board and The Sun’s production manager, expressed concern that the dEIS does not fully analyze the effect the new building will have on the loss of daylight to the inside of the adjacent Foundry.  He also suggested that the EIS mention additional potential mitigations for negative impacts from the garage on views from the Asian Gallery of the Johnson Art Museum. 
As for the document as a whole, Schroeder called it an “impressive body of work” and said that it “addressed the vast majority of issues well.” 
Last night the board unanimously passed a resolution, adopting the comments of its consultant, The Chazen Companies, which performed a technical analysis of the dEIS.  While no Chazen representatives were present, the Board discussed some of its comments, which included a suggestion to more completely analyze pedestrian traffic and American with Disabilities Act compliance at intersections near the project. 
Milstein Hall project representative Kim Michaels expressed concern to the Board that some of the Chazen comments would require an analysis of aspects outside the scope that the Board originally agreed upon for the dEIS.
The Board agreed to seek clarification from Chazen on those remarks. 
In September, the Board declared the dEIS “adequate,” which opened the proposal to the current public review.  This period of public input continues through Nov. 7, which is the last day that the Planning Board will accept written comments about the project. 
At the close of the comment period, the Board will select the “substantive” comments, which will be addressed in the Final Environmental Impact Statement.