Saturday, February 22, 2014

Report From Cornell NYC Tech Vice President Cathy Dove - Reviews Roosevelt Island Town Hall Meeting And Thanks Former RIRA President Ellen Polivy As Tireless Advocate For Community

Cornell NYC Tech VP Cathy Dove Introducing Feb 5 Roosevelt Island Construction Town Hall Meeting

Cornell NYC Tech Vice President Cathy Dove sends this report to the Roosevelt Island community.

Many thanks to everyone who braved this crazy winter weather to join us at the Cornell Tech town hall meeting earlier this month. Despite the slush and bitter cold, more than 125 Islanders came out to hear the latest progress on campus construction and to take part in a great discussion. We were also honored to be joined by our new Council Member, Ben Kallos, and Deputy Borough President Aldrin Bonilla.

This week’s column is devoted to recapping the town hall, but first, I would like to acknowledge and thank Ellen Polivy as she steps down from the Roosevelt Island Residents Association. For more than two years now, Ellen has been a constructive critic and tireless advocate for Islanders, helping us understand what is important to her neighbors. She has always acted in the best interests of the community, while working with us constructively and collaboratively to ensure our campus will be an asset to the Island. We will miss Ellen in her role at RIRA, but are grateful that she will continue to be an active member of the Cornell Tech Construction and Community Task Force.

The town hall meeting was held on February 5th and was co-hosted by the Construction and Community Task Force, which was instrumental in putting together what proved to be a very productive and engaging agenda for the meeting. The task force is a critically important group, providing advice for our team, a forum for keeping the community updated and a group of knowledgeable citizens to raise questions in real time.

Our team made three presentations at the town hall. The first was given by Andrew Winters, Cornell Tech’s Director of Capital Projects and Planning. Andrew is overseeing the campus construction and he gave a broad overview of the project phasing, timeline and design, noting the arrival of the first barge on January 21. He reminded everyone that we are committed to using barges for all aspects of the demolition and abatement phase, which is scheduled to go for almost a year. He also described the fencing around the site and the need to close the eastern roadway and promenade in order to ensure the barging operation is conducted safely. In the near future, the western roadway will be turned into a two-way street, with a turn-around at the end to accommodate vehicular access to Southpoint and Four Freedoms parks. Finally, Andrew filled everyone in on the water main break that occurred on the campus site. A team focused on doing test borings hit an active water line. Residents’ water was never polluted nor compromised, but the incident has led us to revise our drilling procedures and also revisit procedures with RIOC to get immediate and clear information out to the community.

Aric Domozick of PAL Environmental Services then gave a detailed presentation on the work his company is overseeing related to the abatement and demolition of Goldwater Hospital. Aric stressed the focus on safety that his company and the entire Cornell Tech team are bringing to the project, beginning with the abatement but continuing throughout the project. He also described the sequence and approach to demolition.

Then Karen Tamir, our landscape architect from James Corner Field Operations (the group who designed the High Line among many other outstanding projects), gave a quick update on the exciting open space plans for the campus. While these plans are not yet final, Karen and her team are designing a unique set of urban public spaces that will be open to the community, populated with native species of beautiful plants, and take advantage of the spectacular views. This is one of the most exciting aspects of the campus and we look forward to sharing final designs soon.

The last half of the meeting was an opportunity for Islanders to ask questions, provide input and hear directly from the Cornell Tech team. As always, there was a terrific energy and enthusiasm in the room and we appreciate everyone’s participation. I hope that the town hall was informative and helpful to those who attended, and I look forward to seeing even more people at the next town hall meeting later this year. In the meantime, all of the latest information on the campus and the construction process is available on our website at Stay warm and dry! 
Here is the full video of the February 5 Cornell NYC Tech Roosevelt Island Town Hall Meeting.