AUBURN | Residents of Prospect, Franklin and Bowen streets and Boyle and Brister avenues made their voices heard Tuesday when presented with a design concept for a new dormitory behind Cayuga Community College.
They don’t want it — at least as it was presented.
CCC held a neighborhood meeting to inform residents on streets that would be impacted by the future dorm of what the project will entail. The 300-bed dorm, announced recently by the college, would include living spaces, a fitness center, a multi-purpose area and a 70-space parking lot.
CCC has said it needs to be able to house students to be competitive.
This site is planned for an area behind CCC’s Auburn campus that borders the wooded walking trail and is planned to have a driveway off Prospect Street, according to renderings.
Bruce King, an architect with Holmes King Kallquist & Associates Architects, presented the project at the meeting. Residents from several neighborhoods that would be most impacted were invited, said Margaret Spillett, CCC's public relations director.
As soon as the presentation concluded, a tempest of questions and concerns came from residents. King and CCC President Daniel Larson fielded them.
“I think we are forgetting this is a neighborhood,” said Rusty Tierney, a resident. “You’re literally putting 70 parking spaces across from my house. … You’re destroying the neighborhood. You’re destroying the tax base.”
King assured Tierney that traffic on Prospect Street would decrease because students would live on campus and no longer need to drive to class, but Tierney and others were skeptical.
“Stop saying it’s going to reduce traffic,” Tierney said.
“We’re going to be getting the traffic, the delivery trucks, the lights shining into Rusty’s house,” said resident Elaine Nolan.
Resident Rhonda McConnell is also concerned about traffic. She said her house has been hit by speeding motorists twice in the time she’s lived there.
“I’m scared for my kids,” she said.
Other residents were worried about crime and student parties.
“Are you going to staff public safety 24 hours a day?” asked resident Shawn Butler.
Larson said there would be 24-hour public safety personnel, and also said there will be a zero-tolerance rule for drugs and alcohol.
“Zero tolerance — it’s the only way,” Larson said.
Matt Fraher, another resident, asked if studies had been done on crime rates with the addition of student housing in similar situations.
“When you consolidate 300 students from, let’s be honest, God knows where … have you studied any of that as far as crime rates?” he asked.
Larson believes the dorm’s planned full-time residence director and campus security will limit crime, and J. Andrew Breuer, principal at Hueber-Breuer Construction, said the dorm is geared toward attracting a higher caliber of student who is more serious and less likely to cause trouble.
Residents were also concerned about the walking trails behind CCC, although Jeffrey Rosenthal, president of the Faculty-Student Association and vice president of student affairs, assured them nothing will put the trails at risk.
“The faculty would never allow the nature preserve or any of the walking trail system to go away,” he said. “It’s a community treasure.”
Another resident was worried about litter.
“I am concerned about the kids having to walk to get food and dropping their garbage in our neighborhood,” said resident Karen Quest.
Although a couple of residents were open to the dorm, most of the attendees took issue with the concept as presented; some even joked about moving out. Larson said he wished there was another way to expand without impacting neighbors.
“I wish the college had 500 acres to expand out,” he said.
After the meeting, as residents filed out, Larson said he believed it went well.
“(It was) an opportunity for the neighbors to come and see the presentation of our concept and for them to respond to it,” he said.
He said the project is flexible and could change, based on the climate of the neighborhood.
“These concerns very well could change the project and how it moves forward,” he said. “I don’t think we want people to feel like they need to sell their houses and move.”
The project is expected to break ground in May or June of this year, Larson said.