November 27, 2012

Queens Residents Question Impact of NYC Tech Campus

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Queens community board members warned during a meeting on November 20 that the construction of Cornell NYC Tech will bring traffic and pollution to Astoria, a neighborhood in Queens across the East River from the future site of the tech campus.

While the members of Queens Community Board 1 said that the new campus would be detrimental to the neighborhood, which connects Roosevelt Island to the mainland via a bridge, the board will likely have little say over the project’s outcome. The island is located within the boundaries of Manhattan Community Board 8, and therefore beyond the Queens community board’s jurisdiction.

“They [Manhattan Community Board] are getting a beautiful building and we are getting all the garbage,” said Vinicio Donato, chair of Queens Community Board 1, according to

Cornell representatives at the meeting assured board members that the project, both during and after construction, would have a minimal impact on Astoria. They noted that preliminary findings showed that area traffic would only increase by six percent because of the construction.

Andrew Winters, director of capital projects and planning for Cornell NYC Tech, said that the University is considering bringing in construction materials by barge, among other methods.

“We are going to be looking at all different methods of delivering construction materials,” Winters said, according to

However, some board members questioned whether Cornell will end up using construction methods that don’t increase traffic in Astoria.

“When the engineers and finance people tell you what it’s gonna cost, you’re gonna say: ‘Use the trucks.’,” board member George Stamatiades said.

Stamatiades also asked if students and faculty will use alternative transportation, such as the subway and a proposed water taxi, to cut down on traffic congestion and air pollution.

“We’ve heard all these beautiful stories about the project many times,” Stamatiades said. “If you are only expecting a six percent increase in the volume of traffic coming through our community, there won’t be that many people on that island.”

Original Author: David Marten