The feedback from the four people who spoke up during a public hearing yesterday for Pace University's (DEIS) before the Town of Mount Pleasant's planning board was largely positive.
, outlined by planning consultant Andrew Tung, a principal with Divney, Tung and Schwalbe, will bring all students and administrative offices from the current over to Pleasantville—creating a need for 1,400 total beds.
The $100 million plan also includes an overhaul of the campus, including stormwater management improvements, the addition of some athletic facilities, moving and expanding the environmental center and making the campus overall more pedestrian-friendly.
"Next year, 2013, will mark the 50th anniversary of Pace University, establishing itself on the Mount Pleasant campus," Tung said. "This [plan] is launching us into our next 50 years."
Dennis Carpenter, who identified himself as a 65-year town resident and alumnus, read a letter written by a fellow graduate and Hawthorne business owner, Alfred Daniele.
"I have found the Pace University community to be an important economic engine for the local economy," Carpenter read. "Pace's students, faculty, staff and visitors to campus have provided my restaurant with an invaluable customer base."
Pace University Senior Michael Oleaga said he was disappointed he wouldn't be around to enjoy the new campus, but was confident the proposed changes, including the elimination of the Briarcliff Manor campus, would "enhance" the school's "sense of unity."
"There's a positive anticipation of a more modern day university and campus," he added, referencing some of the new buildings that have been proposed.
Stephen Deely, who has lived across the street from the Pleasantville campus for 40 years, said he supported the plan, but urged officials to consider adding an emergency route to the campus—one not on Bedford Road.
According to Tung, the total number of Bedford Road facing entrances to the Pleasantville campus would drop from five to three for everyday use.
"I think a safety issue has to be significantly addressed," Deely warned, citing times when the Saw Mill River Parkway floods or tree debris litters Bedford Road as hazards that clog traffic on the street.
"As people are diverted out into Pleasantville, you just can't get into town," he said. "There are some serious, serious concerns."
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Mount Pleasant Conservation Advisory Council Chairman Steven Kavee listed several items—including the replacement of invasive species with native specials on the campus and LEED building technology—as proposals he applauded in the plan.
"This plan has a lot of very positive components from an environmental perspective," he said.
He also asked for specifics on other items, including details on the proposed removal of approximately 1,100 trees and replanting for 1,200.
"I would like to see a tree preservation plan," he suggested.
Tung said the proposed plans would take approximately seven-and-a-half years to complete, and would be done so in phases, as to not interrupt school service.
The first phase would entail closing the Briarcliff Manor campus, adding two new dormitories to the Pleasantville campus and adding additional athletic facilities in Pleasantville (tennis court, multi-purpose football field, etc.) and related essential services.
In the second phase, infrastructure improvements including adding the new entrance in the western portion of the campus and a third residence hall, would be completed.
Finally, older buildings on the Pleasantville campus would be updated, including upperclassman townhouse residence halls.
To complete the project as proposed, Pace will need to gain three zoning variances—increasing the maximum allowable size of a university building to four stories from two, decreasing the minimum allowable space allowed between two adjacent buildings and decreasing the minimum space allowed between an athletic field and a property boundary.
In an alternative zoning compliant plan outlined in the DEIS, Tung said four more residence halls would have to be built.
The planning board closed the public hearing Thursday night, but will continue to accept written comments through June 4.
Editor's Note: Tung was previously misidentified as an engineer. We regret the error.