MCKOWNVILLE RESIDENTS FACE SUNYA GROWTH

Tim Spofford Staff writer
Section: LOCAL,  Page: B3

Date: Tuesday, August 15, 1989

McKownville residents recently learned that the State University at Albany hopes to construct a dormitory and a science building close to their neighborhood, though not in the immediate future.


The university has long-range plans to build at least one dormitory and an atmospheric sciences building on an 80-acre parcel of land it owns on the west side of Fuller Road, residents learned at a recent meeting of the McKownville Improvement Association. In August 1988, SUNYA opened Freedom Quadrangle, a new 100-unit dormitory on the same 80-acre site. At the time, the project was touted as one step toward releasing the pressure on Albany's housing market created by students seeking apartments.


But SUNYA's new dorm did not help McKownville.


A residential neighborhood in the town of Guilderland, McKownville has two huge, bustling neighbors: the university and Crossgates shopping mall. Heavy traffic from the Northway, Thruway, Route 20 and Fuller Road courses through the neighborhood.


Donald Reeb, a past president of the association and an economist at SUNYA, said there was "no hue and outcry" from residents learning of SUNYA's plans for the 80-acre site.


"People would rather see it remain natural, but they know they don't have the power to do that," he said.


Some residents are still grumbling about the 1 1/2 acres of trees recently cut to reroute SUNYA's perimeter road to accommodate its new fieldhouse, Reeb said. "There was sadness because of that - rightly so. People don't like to see a couple of acres of trees come up missing."


Dennis Stevens, associate vice president for facilities at SUNYA, said the university lacks the authority to proceed with development of land surrounding Freedom Quadrangle. "There's no dollars to support construction on that site now," he said.


The Legislature also has yet to give SUNYA the permission to use private funds to build a projected incubator building for atmospheric science firms at the 80-acre site, he said.


Before SUNYA begins any construction on the site, it would discuss its plans with the neighborhood association, Stevens said. "We don't require the approval of that association, but it's simple, good PR to keep them apprised of such plans."


Reeb, an associate professor, estimated that about 18 of the neighborhood's 780 homes are inhabited by SUNYA faculty members.


Stevens said he expects to attend an October meeting of the neighborhood association to discuss SUNYA's long- range development plans with McKownville residents.


He said construction of the university's new $12 million fieldhouse is progressing steadily: "We certainly had good weather for construction this summer."


SUNYA's perimeter road, currently blocked near the construction site, is scheduled to reopen in the summer of 1990, he said. The fieldhouse should be finished by the summer of 1991.