The first public hearing for the Park Point project was held last Friday, bringing this merge of public and private housing into the community eye.
Although Park Point would bring 732 beds for students, staff and faculty, it is still necessary to take into account the numerous concerns of the community when making building decisions such as this.
We at The New Paltz Oracle believe that the lack of student housing is absolutely a problem our campus faces that needs to be addressed, but feel that each and every concern of the New Paltz community should be accounted for.
On one hand we agree with the New Paltz administration that lack of housing — particularly for transfer students — is a large problem for our college and needs to be remedied. There are still students living in triple-occupied rooms in residence halls and overflow rooms are filled with astronomical speed.
With the population of first-year and transfer students increasing each year, SUNY New Paltz needs more housing options and the Park Point project will help with that.
In addition, campus housing is a step toward independence for college students and allows them to create a better sense of community.
Currently, 50 percent of undergraduate students at New Paltz live in on-campus housing and all transfers are unable to live on campus. Park Point will increase the percentage of students living on campus to 60 precent and allegedly will allow for transfer students to have an on-campus housing experience.
Adding 10 percent to available rooms on campus is a number that cannot be overlooked. If Park Point is able to meet public approval and quell fears of concerned community members then we believe building it is a no brainer.
New Paltz should not have to worry about turning away transfer students based on the fact that they cannot provide housing accommodations for them. If the college hopes to continue their rise in yearly rankings, this is an issue that is paramount.
Offering more housing and having a place for transfer students to reside will not only be more convenient for students but will also make New Paltz more attractive to prospective students.
We’ve all heard stories of transfer students being disappointed when they are told there is no room for them on campus and it is likely prospective students have turned away from the school because of that.
In fact, President Christian said many students leave SUNY New Paltz “in tears” when they are told they cannot live on campus.
However, as the public hearing last Friday clearly showed, many members of the New Paltz community have concerns about the direction of the project, its environmental impact and the possible exclusivity that might come with the increased price to live in Park Point.
With respect to potential exclusivity of the complex, we fear that some students would not be able to afford these “luxury” apartments and therefore this would effectively negate the entire reason for building them.
This would be a greater problem for the campus community if the project includes a clubhouse-like area for residents of the apartments only. The exclusion of students living in residence halls could alienate them as members of campus and lead to further separation between those who live in the apartments and those who don’t.
Many members of the community brought environmental concerns forward to the planning board such as meeting green standards like newer buildings on campus and arsenic levels where the buildings will be located.
The future location of Park Point is currently below the state maximum for arsenic levels. However, we believe it would be best to investigate if this area is completely safe before creating housing.
While the project is not subject to state required LEED Silver Certification as it is being constructed by a private company, we believe SUNY New Paltz should demand those criteria be met, especially if President Christian believes calling Park Point off-campus should be considered a “technicality.”
Especially on the heels of Crispell Hall winning LEED Gold Certification, we believe New Paltz should keep those standards with all projects.
New Paltz is one of the last four-year SUNY schools that has yet to offer this type of campus housing and we applaud them for their efforts to make housing more readily available to transfer students. However, New Paltz still needs to address all concerns in a timely manner.
We urge the public to inform themselves about the Park Point project and voice their concerns at the next public hearing on Nov. 19.