Tuesday, December 4, 2012

40 Pages of Question And Answers on Roosevelt Island Cornell NYC Tech - Also, Community Board 8 Roosevelt Island Cornell Task Force Meeting Tonight To Discuss Recommendation To Full Board

Community Board 8 Roosevelt Island Cornell Technion Task Force will be meeting tonight. According to CB 8:

Meeting Date:
Tuesday, December 4, 2012 - 6:30pm
Meeting Location:
Manhattan Park Theatre Club
8 River Road, Roosevelt Island
New York, NY

Executive Session of Task Force to craft Cornell-Technion resolution
While the meeting is open to the community and anyone is allowed to attend, there will no public statements or comments taken. The purpose of this meeting is for the Task Force members to discuss among themselves the information they received from Cornell and all other interested parties in order to draft a resolution recommending action by the full board.

During the November 26 Cornell Roosevelt Island Task Force meeting, Community Board 8 Chair Nicholas Viest explains what will happen at tonight's meeting

Below are some answers from Cornell NYC Tech to questions submitted during the November 26 CB 8 Roosevelt Island Task Force meeting. (Full video of meeting is here). The full question and answer response from Cornell NYC Tech is here.
Q -  Looking for partnerships to support early childhood education (Page 1)

A - We are willing to work with all age groups of children on Roosevelt Island, although we plan to focus our efforts on students who are in middle school as this is a pivotal time to interest them in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields. Our interaction will involve direct student interaction, support for teachers, and family engagement. We have initiated discussions with, and look forward to continuing to work closely with PS/IS 217 to determine the specific programs that will be most useful to make that school a model in STEM education. Re: timing, while significant programming requires faculty and graduate student involvement, in advance of having significant numbers of those resources we will be partnering with several NYC institutions who have demonstrated expertise in K-12 programming. We would be happy to have the next planning meeting with PS/IS 217 within the next 90 days to begin more detailed planning.

Q - Community needs its own environmental consultant, to be paid for by Cornell
An Environmental Management Report should be prepared for this project and be reviewed and concurred by all stakeholders. Should have independent consultant monitor construction (Page 2-3)

A - During the abatement, demolition and excavation of the site, a third party monitor will be appointed and information will be available to the community. As a requirement of the Remedial Action Plan (RAP)/Construction Health and Safety Plan (CHASP) governing hazardous materials, reviewed and approved by NYCDEP, third- party monitoring will be conducted to ensure compliance with these Plans. A P.E.-certified Remedial Closure Report will be prepared at the completion of each phase of the project to document and demonstrate that all remedial activities have been properly implemented.

In 2013, we will establish a Construction Task Force with the community which will receive regular and detailed updates and will ensure an on-going dialogue with the community about environmental concerns and construction generally.

Q - Should commit to security plan to address terrorism concerns (Page 3)

A -  All major universities, including Cornell, take security very seriously. Given our existing presence in NYC, we are familiar with some of the challenges of balancing the needs for security, with the desire for an open campus in the City. We have already begun planning and we will work with the appropriate experts and agencies on security issues.

Q - Should use barges. Barging is preferable, could expand to include ferry service and construction of permanent dock; explore ferry service as mitigation for traffic impacts; RIOC completed a ferry study (Page 4)

A - Cornell presented our work to date on barging to the community on 11/26/12. As indicated at that meeting there are several options that look promising and we are continuing the analysis as well as meeting with appropriate agencies to discuss the feasibility of the various options.

While the Cornell project is not dependent on ferry service, we agree that ferry service would be great for the island and therefore would like to work with other owners and stakeholders to achieve this goal.

As we continue to explore barging we will look for opportunities to utilize those facilities for passenger service. Currently our analysis shows that barging requires a set-up very different than passenger-oriented infrastructure, but we will continue to look for synergies.

Q - 50% of materials should be locally sourced (within 100 miles of site) (Page 6)

A - We are committed that our campus will be a minimum of LEED-silver. LEED provides credit for materials sources within a 500-mile radius (which for NYC includes a lot of water!), and all of our past LEED projects have achieved this LEED objective. We typically encourage both architects and contractors to help in achieving this goal – architects by specifying materials that can be supplied locally/regionally, and contractors by including local suppliers in the bid process. To achieve one LEED credit point, 10% (by cost) of the total materials have to be locally sourced and manufactured. To achieve two, 20% is the goal. We typically achieve both points as there is enough regional manufacturing to allow this without cost impact.

Q - Will Cornell be making concrete on site? ( Page 6)

A - Although we are reviewing the possibility, it is unlikely there will be a concrete batch plant on site. Extended permitting periods, environmental impacts (control of truck wash out, noise and dust, etc.) and the delivery of raw materials (gravel, portland cement, chemical additives) are all factors that are significant obstacles to making a plant a reality.

Q - Will Cornell help with the cost of the seawall that we all need to keep the Island intact and safe during storm surges? (Page 7)

A - We will not own nor control any portion of the promenade or seawall. The best protection against storm surges is raising the level of the site, as we are planning to do. To the extent that a barging plan impacts the seawall, we would make any necessary repairs at that location.

Q - Provide pedestrian access to 59th St. bridge (Page 8)

A - We think it is a great idea and are happy to initiate a study to examine the feasibility of pedestrian access to the 59th Street Bridge. However, construction of such a facility would be a significant capital investment beyond the scope of the Cornell campus.

Q - Disabled community is well respected on island and Cornell should make provisions for disabled, e.g. priority on buses (Page 8)

A - The Cornell campus is being designed in recognition of the needs of the disabled community and will be fully accessible.

Q - There would be 1,000+ vehicle trips each day on Main Street during the construction period for Phase 1. (Page 14)

A - The Draft EIS considers a worst-case scenario at the period of most intensive construction activities, and assumes that all materials will be brought in by truck (versus barging or other alternative methods that continue to be studied). With these conservative assumptions, the highest number of trucks in the peak construction period – the third quarter of 2015 – would be 67 per day, and the number of worker vehicles would be approximately 334. The number of trucks and worker vehicles would be less at other periods.

Moreover, not all of these vehicles would necessarily be on Main Street, as many of the workers would park at the Motorgate Garage because there will be only 100 parking spaces available at the Cornell site.

Q - What type of explosive materials will be used and its method of transportation to the Island? Method of handling the excavated soil, the existing ash layer (usually includes high level of metal including mercury), and the dust control? (Page 16)

A - Explosives will not be necessary to complete the rock excavation. All the rock material anticipated on site should be of a type that can be excavated by mechanical means.

Q -How is the helix ramp leading from the bridge to the island going to be improved to handle the huge heavy truck traffic anticipated? What would be the impact if the ramp had to be closed for repairs? (Page 18)

A- No improvements to the helix are proposed as part of the project. As with any transportation facility, including local roads, highways, and bridges, necessary repair would be conducted with the appropriate maintenance and protection of traffic and pedestrian flows, subject to review and approval by the entity having jurisdiction over the facility, which in this case would be RIOC. Cornell will be complying with the reduced load limits on the bridge and helix as approved by DOT.

Q - Why is there no modeling of traffic during AM and PM peak hours in the Study? Will there be traffic jams and backups across the entire bridge, on Vernon Blvd, and especially on Main St in the PM rush (it seems that there will be)? (Page 19)

A - The DEIS includes a detailed traffic impact analysis for the AM, midday, and PM peak hours and provides recommendation on potential mitigation measures where significant adverse traffic impacts were identified. On Roosevelt Island, no significant adverse traffic impacts were identified for Phase 1 and the impacts identified for Phase 2 could be addressed with the installation of traffic signals at two on-island intersections.

Q - Why is there no consideration of Cornell running its own shuttle buses for staff parking at Motorgate during peak hours rather than using overcrowded red buses? (Page 20)

A - The DEIS analysis identified the need to increase Red Bus service during peak construction and in Phase II to address anticipated increase in ridership, the cost of which would be paid for by Cornell.

Q - Construction trucks will be a truck every 8 minutes. (Page 23)

A -  During peak construction in the 3rd quarter of 2015 when an average of 67 daily truck deliveries were estimated, it is correct that there would be on average approximately one truck delivery every 8 minutes. However, as shown in Table 20-3 on page 20-12, the average daily truck deliveries during Phase 1 and Phase 2 construction were estimated at 37 and 21, respectively, which would be substantially less than what may be experienced during the peak quarter of construction.

 Q- Cornell must contribute to the Public Service Department in order to adequately increase the manpower that will be needed for maintaining security and safety for new residents and its facilities (referring to DEIS 4-4) (Page 24)

A - Cornell will have a security department that will work cooperatively with the Public Service Department and NYPD. As described in the DEIS, the proposed project does not meet the CEQR Technical Manual threshold for an analysis of police and fire protection services.

Q - No hazardous materials should be transported on main street (only barge) (Page 26)

A - To the extent that trucks are used either to bring in hazardous materials (e.g., fuels) or take out hazardous materials (e.g., asbestos removed prior to demolition or petroleum contaminated soil during tank removal or subsequent excavation), it would only be performed in strict accordance with the RAP/CHASP (e.g., covering of trucks containing soil) and applicable regulatory requirements, including those relating to state waste transporter permits and state/federal placarding rules.

Q - Privately Owned Public Spaces generally have 24 hour access – why should the public space on the campus be limited to certain hours? Concerned whether open spaces will be publicly accessible, and whether portion of waterfront connection will be enclosed (Page 37)

A - The public access area hours in the zoning text (open daily from 6am to 10pm between April 15th and October 31st and from 7am to 8pm for the remainder of the year) are the hours that apply to waterfront access areas under Article VI, Chapter 2 and accordingly are proposed for the development site given its proximity to the river on two sides. Hours of operation are included in the Zoning Resolution in virtually all cases where publicly accessible open space is required for development, as opposed to public plazas generating a floor area bonus. The reason for having stated public access hours is that there is a benefit to having hours of operation to control noise and promote a secure campus.

A maximum of 20% of the required open space may be covered, and some of this space could be located within buildings, provided that the space remains open and publicly accessible, and complies with the minimum height and other design requirements applicable to public access areas.

Q - What kind of academic research and what kinds of business will be here? (Page 38)

A - Because this is a tech campus, the research will be around data, software, and related hardware such as robotics and basic electronics. The businesses interested in locating on the campus are ones that will benefit from collaboration with the campus in these areas, either in the tech sector or in related industries.

Q - What is meant by "corporate co-location" use? (Page 39)

A - The first phase of the campus likely will include 100,000 square feet of corporate co- location space. The campus is designed to directly connect academic research with industry. The corporate co-location buildings will provide space for private companies, start-ups, entrepreneurs and other tech- related organizations that want to be located on campus with close access to the Cornell Tech students and faculty. Under our lease with the city, we are required to develop an academic campus including at least 620,000 sf of academic space, which will prevent the site from becoming a business district.
Click here for all 40 pages of questions and answers and here for the Cornell NYC Tech Draft Environmental Impact Statement.


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