of the Pine Hills community voice concerns over, and hear
assurances on, Saint Rose’s latest construction plans
The College of Saint Rose has undergone extensive renovations
over the last year, prompting concerned responses from some
members of the neighboring Pine Hills community. This Monday,
Pine Hills residents and Saint Rose officials met to discuss
plans to convert buildings at 334 Ontario St. and 556 Yates
St. (including the adjacent 571 Morris St.) into maintenance
and storage facilities, plans that have elicited concerns
about noise, traffic and the historical integrity of the neighborhood.
While Saint Rose denied that the buildings would house heavy,
gas-powered machinery and operate 24 hours a day, some longtime
residents pointed to prior breaches of faith as evidence that
such assurances are not guarantees.
give you some idea of how the neighborhood was,” said Ric
Chesser, “in the ’60’s, when the Breslin brothers”—State Sen.
Neil Breslin (D-Delmar) and Albany County Executive Mike Breslin—“grew
up on Morris in a house that’s now vacant, there may have
been a hundred kids. Last year, there were 10; this year,
there are two.”
Chesser has lived in his house on Morris Street since 1980.
He began having issues with the expansion of the school after
Saint Rose purchased the old Vincentian Institute Child Culture
Division (also known as the Glass School) directly across
the street from his home. Originally, he said, they were going
to raze the building and put in a parking lot. The structure
was instead renovated and turned into a music building for
For Pine Hills residents, who were promised that the renovations
would reflect the character of the neighborhood, the resulting
blank gray wall and surrounding parking lot came as a disappointment.
Another concern Chesser pointed to, that the current renovations
were intended to attract more students to the school, was
also rebuffed. Marcus Buckley, the vice president of finance
at Saint Rose, insisted that the new, eco-friendly facilities
are as much for current students and faculty as they are to
attract talented new students, but not necessarily more. Boasting
an arts building with an energy-harvesting, light-balancing
system, a recital hall with excellent acoustics that runs
on zero fossil fuel, Buckley claimed that the upgrade was
purely for “pedagogical reasons,” and that “standards have
Although the Pine Hills residents were still skeptical, they
said that they’re willing to work with the college to help
ensure a mutually beneficial relationship. At the meeting
Monday night, while concerns about graffiti, property upkeep,
and red plastic cups (used at keg parties and for beer pong)
were raised, community members also expressed appreciation
for the speed with which Saint Rose has been addressing such
issues, particularly over the last few years.
just don’t want to be treated like the back end of Saint Rose,”
explained Dan Healey, noting that representations of impending
projects shown to the Pine Hills Neighborhood Association
in the past have not always borne much resemblance to the
finished product. “We work hard to keep our neighborhood nice.
We’ve been trying to get our home historically certified,
and we don’t want to see our vision destroyed.”
At the same time, Healey and his wife expressed gratitude
for the added security provided by the school and admitted
that, often, Saint Rose was a better neighbor than many of
their conventional neighbors.
René Molineaux of Yates Street agreed but stressed that he
would not be happy if the proposed construction led to more
traffic or noise on his street, especially at odd hours of
the day. Buckley and Mike D’Attilio, of Saint Rose’s public-relations
office, repeatedly assured those present that operating hours
would be limited to 7:30 AM to 3:30 PM, that the buildings
would house no gas-powered machinery, and that they would
be used primarily for storage. According to the proposed plans,
the building on Yates will house the campus carpenter, as
well as seasonal equipment, such as shovels and rakes; the
site on Ontario will be used to store school files, extra
furniture for student housing and extraneous holiday decorations.
Currently, the school still needs permission for these actions
from the city Board of Zoning Appeals, a process that has
not yet officially begun.
Councilwoman-elect Leah Golby (Ward 10) was present at the
meeting, but seemed content to merely listen to concerns for
the time being.
loose ends this week-