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Roosevelt Islanders Discuss Planned Local Tech Center With Cornell Officials

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Cornell University officials reached out to the residents of Roosevelt Island Thursday night to hear concerns about the new science and technology campus planned for the area that will take decades to complete. NY1's Michael Herzenberg filed the following report.

Cornell University has animations to represent its present vision of the Technion-Cornell Innovation Institute, but officials admitted what they call an open campus will change shape because they want the community's input.

"It's not just rhetoric. We're the state's land grant institution and so it's critical over the years we are developing this campus we've become good neighbors," said Cornell University President David Skorton.

Residents filled every seat at the town hall meeting Thursday night and they had specific concerns about the applied science and engineering school.

They said getting to and from the island is already a problem, without the presence of three planned residence halls, a conference center and a hotel.

"One of my major concerns is transportation," said a local. "I don't see how we're going to handle the extra traffic."

Officials called the F train a "technology corridor" and Cornell officials said they will encourage transportation alternatives. But much still needs to be worked out.

"We're going to use our expertise to try to minimize the number of cars on the island. We've done that in our campus at Ithaca, a much larger campus. I believe we can do it here too," said Skorton. "But these are hugely important problems, and I wouldn't insult the people by pretending that I could have an answer on Night 1."

Ninety days into a 35-year project, neighbors also talked about worries over jobs, parking and construction material.

"The thought of it disrupting the rest of my life is a concern but it's worth it," said a Roosevelt Island resident. "I'm very excited about them coming, I really am."

The first building will open in five years on the northern side of the 11-acre site and Cornell will build out south.

The city donated the land and $100 million toward construction.

But school will start even before plans are finalized. Cornell is looking for rental space now in the city, but not on the island, for classes in September for existing graduate students from Ithaca. New students will start in January.

The school eventually aims for 280 faculty members and 2,500 students, and to create 30,000 to 120,000 jobs.

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