Schenectady County Community College officials said a temporary barrier should be completed by Monday at the latest to prevent students living at the new College Suites from jaywalking to campus.
Metroplex Development Authority Chairman Ray Gillen, who is also on the SCCC Board of Trustees, said a barrier was always part of the plan for the 264-bed student housing facility being constructed at 117 Washington Ave. SCCC is located across the street from College Suites. Work is wrapping up on the four-story, 112,000-square-foot facility, and students are expected to begin moving in Friday, according to college spokeswoman Heather Meaney.
The developer, the Troy-based United Group of Companies, is leasing the property from the county and building the housing complex at its own expense. There are well more than 200 applications for the housing at this point, according to the developer.
Gillen said college officials specifically requested that the developer not construct an entrance in the center of the building, as would normally have been done. Instead, the entrance is on the left side of the building. A 6-foot-high chain-link fence will start from the entrance to College Suites. Then, there will be a 3-foot-tall, temporary concrete barrier that will block off Water Street and another 6-foot-high chain link fence picks up and goes to State Street, according to a plan provided by Gillen from the engineering firm Creighton Manning. The crosswalk is located at Washington Avenue and State Street.
“It will basically prevent anybody leaving the student housing, except at the corner, where there’s a signalized intersection,” he said.
There also will be signs directing pedestrians where to walk.
Gillen said this is different from the decorative fence that is already up running along the length of the building.
The cost of the temporary fix is $10,000, paid for by Metroplex. Gillen said the permanent solution, conceived by SCCC President Quintin Bullock, is to install a decorative barrier down the median of Washington Avenue. This would not consist of concrete barriers, but something more visually appealing, with planters and landscaping, according to Gillen. The cost is still being determined, but he said it won’t be significant.
The college has applied to the state Department of Transportation for a permit because it is a state road.
“We can’t put something in the median just because we feel like it,” Gillen said.
The closure of Water Street is also part of the reconfiguration of Liberty Park.
“The whole area that’s now Water Street will be an extended green space,” Gillen said.
The design concepts include performance space such as a small platform or amphitheater area. The second phase would double the size of the park, but it needs funding.
There will be a public meeting to discuss the changes to Liberty Park from 7 to 9 p.m. Sept. 11 in Stockade Hall at SCCC.
Gillen said he believes the housing project will spur other growth in that part of the city.
“That’s a beautiful building. Lower State Street is starting to come alive,” he said.
SCCC Board of Trustees Chairwoman Denise Murphy McGraw said the college is working with the city, the state Department of Transportation and Stockade residents to make improvements to the corridor.
“I think all the parties involved have been very engaged to work on what’s going to be a very safe crossing,” she said.
McGraw said college officials are no longer interested in building a skywalk over Washington Avenue similar to the one it has connecting Elston Hall to the Center for Science and Technology.
“They’re very expensive, and no one uses them,” she said. “They’re hot. You go on a sunny day like [Tuesday], and they just don’t get used.”
McGraw said the college has asked DOT officials to extend the duration of the pedestrian crossing signal at Washington and State. She said the developers brought the issue to trustees’ attention after they had seen how difficult it was to cross the street to get from their office on campus to the housing site.
“You’ve really got to hustle,” she said.
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