AUBURN | A proposed 300-bed Cayuga Community College dormitory took center stage at Tuesday's Cayuga County Legislature meeting.
The proposed four-story dormitory to be built on vacant space near the corner of Prospect and Franklin streets has plans for both single and double suites. Residents near the area have already taken issue with the structure.
Concerned residents piled into the Cayuga County Office Building. Rusty Tierney was the first to voice his concerns and frustration over answers on the possible disruption of the family-friendly neighborhood.
Specifically, Tierney asked why an environmental impact study has not been done, why officials are even considering putting a dormitory in a single-family residential area, and the impact on the college's nature trail.
“You can't put 300 students in any area and expect it to remain unchanged,” he said. “These questions and concerns are not just ours but should be yours as well and without the answers to all of them, the project should not move ahead.”
Bill Rankin, a resident who lives directly across from the proposed site, cited three major issues: the overall plan, taxes and safety. And amid his questions, he shared a personal story that hit close to home for him and for the future safety of the neighborhood.
Rankin said his daughter was hit by a 19-year-old student driving home drunk when she was in college. She and her roommate were walking home from a mall where there were no sidewalks, he said — similar to that of the proposed location. His daughter's roommate was killed instantly.
“You have the exact same scenario here that hurt our daughter and believe me I don't want to see anyone go through what I went through,” he said. “Building a dorm in this area will increase traffic and create an unsafe situation for homeowners, students and kids on our streets and there's a lot more to this project then we've been told.”
CCC President Dr. Daniel Larson attempted to address the issue in his monthly report to the Legislature, saying that while the details are still being ironed out, the project is in the early stages. He promised that CCC officials are working through the process.
Larson also defended the proposed location and referred to successful colleges in the surrounding area such as LeMoyne and Cazenovia, that have built similar dormitories in urban residential areas.
“Colleges such as ours are anchor institutions that allow neighborhoods to remain at the levels they would like to see,” he said.
Larson also assured everyone that no taxpayer dollars would be used. It will be funded entirely through student rental of the dormitory, he added.
Some legislators raised their own concerns. Legislator Stephen Barski asked local law enforcement officials whether they could handle the increased need for security. He was told that presently they cannot because the college does not yet operate on a 24-hour security system. Legislator Patrick Mahunik requested officials explore all concerns so no questions remain unanswered.
"We want to be able to pitch it so that everyone else is informed," he said. "And I'd like to request that we don't do the bare minimum. Let's get all the information out there."
Larson remained open to comments and questions by legislators and said the discussion with residents will continue. A February meeting is being planned.