Security Concerns Raised About Pace Consolidation at Hearing

The Mount Pleasant Planning Board discussed the proposed Pace University consolidation plan last week.

The Mount Pleasant Planning Board discussed the proposed Pace University consolidation plan last week.

Concerns about security and student conduct at Pace’s Pleasantville campus surfaced during the resumption of a public hearing last week on the university’s proposed consolidation plan.

At the May 20 session, Mount Pleasant Planning Board members urged Pace representatives to beef up security after one resident and several board members described problems with student behavior that has caused disturbances.

Campus security was an issue that was raised at the opening session of the hearing on May 2. Andrew Tung, the project’s planner and landscape architect, previously told the board that when students are moved from the Briarcliff side to the Pleasantville campus into new dormitories, security officers would make the move as well.

However, board member Joan Lederman said the planned shift of security officers alone would be inadequate.

“What you’re doing right now isn’t working,” she said.

Lederman, a local EMS volunteer, said students at the Pleasantville campus have caused a number of problems, including initiating false alarms that have forced local emergency responders to race to the site.

“You do need more security,” Lederman said.

Board member James Collins agreed that rules are not being enforced on the Pleasantville campus.

“You really need to consider beefing up your security a lot more,” Collins said.

Resident Karen Moran, who lives near the campus, said in addition to the fire alarms, there have been excessive drinking and traffic problems in the area.

Pace is seeking site plan approval to construct new student residences and athletic facilities on the Pleasantville campus to replace those that would be lost with the planned sale of the Briarcliff property.

While there were criticisms leveled at Pace during the hearing, two speakers expressed support for the project. Pleasantville resident Toni Emerson said the consolidation plan would have many advantages, including a reduction of traffic in the area because students would no longer be commuting from the Briarcliff campus to Pleasantville.

Another resident, Dorothy Greenburg, read a letter from former county planning commissioner Peter Eschweiler, who supports Pace’s proposal. Eschweiler thanked Pace officials for its “comprehensive approach to community outreach.” He also mentioned the anticipated traffic reduction as a key advantage.

To address issues that might affect the neighbors, the board asked Pace representatives to re-establish a community relations committee. The committee was discontinued some years ago due to a lack of interest.

Eric Morrissey, director of government and community relations for the university, said Pace has agreed to the board’s call to restart the committee. The first meeting of the new Pace Community Advisory Council has been scheduled for June 19, he said.

According to Bender & Thompson, the public relations firm retained by the university, Pace has held 10 meetings with residents to discuss the project between December 2011 and November 2012. The university also sponsored a series of open houses, published newsletters and created a Master Plan website with information about the project.

Also during last week’s discussion, Mount Pleasant Conservation Advisory Council Chairman Steven Kavee called for the university to regularly test for the presence of zinc if the artificial surface, FieldTurf, is installed for the main athletic field. The field is expected to be expanded to accommodate football, lacrosse and soccer.

Kavee said he was concerned that the zinc in the turf would endanger water supplies after it was contained in runoff from the field.

Tung told Kavee that Pace was planning to install water retention basins near the field and would have the runoff treated to prevent pollution.

Collins also asked Pace to provide a sustainable energy component for its plan. Students and faculty should be allowed to provide input since the university offers a variety of environmental academic programs, he said.

Pace’s project website has outlined a sustainable energy plan for the campus consolidation proposal. All new buildings will feature design that will far exceed the baseline for New York State code requirements for energy.

“One of the goals of the campus consolidation project is to be as sustainable as possible while maintaining a positive cost/benefit approach,” the website states.

The use of high-performance systems, native materials and water and energy conservation strategies are all part of the plan, it stated.

The planning board voted unanimously to adjourn the hearing until its next meeting on June 6.





Filed Under: The Examiner