UTICA, N.Y. - Emotions ran high during an informational forum at the Kelberman Center Thursday night.
South Utica residents attended the meeting to ask questions and voice their concerns about the new Sunset Ave. apartment complex that will be built where the old Sunset School sits.
Dr. Robert Myers, the executive director for the Kelberman Center, says the complex will be called The Link at Sunset. The building will be a four-story complex with 60 units. 12 of those units will be designed for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The other 48 will be, what Myers calls, workforce housing, and space for Kelberman Center employees.
"It is not low income, this housing is whats called workforce housing, so there are income thresholds, approximately $25,000 - $55,000 a year," Myers said.
Many residents, like Lindsay Bonanza, say they are not opposed to the project, they just believe the project is too large.
"If you told us tomorrow that you were moving this project to 50% smaller than what it is, we'd cheer, we'd get our shovels out and help you build it," Bonanza said.
Others agree with Bonanza.
"My grandson has autism, I'm in favor of the project, it's just been poorly presented and as everyone said, it is too big," William Blanchfield, south Utica resident said.
One of the biggest questions being asked is why does it have to be so big, and why 60 units?
"The project was fully funded for 60," Myers said. "It allows us to support 12 people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. which was the goal of the project all along. It's appropriately zoned, it went through all the public process."
Residents are asking for the project to be scaled down, but Myers says it is too late for that.
"No, we can't, I mean developing a project to this nature is not simple, it's a lot of architecture and a lot of study and a lot of design and those things are tremendously expensive and they're all done," Myers said.
Another concern is traffic. Many residents were wondering why there was not a traffic study done.
David Harding, a landscape architect says a traffic study was not necessary.
"As far as traffic studies, when you're going through the environmental review process, if you have parking lots that are less than 100 cars, you don't have to get into a full-blown traffic study," Harding said.
According to Harding, there will be 94 parking spaces for the building. 45 spaces will be for residents, 20 for resident visitors, 24 for Kelberman employees, four for Kelberman guests, and one parking space for a maintenance person.
Residents are also concerned with infrastructure.
"How can this project be in this little residential, low zoning area, and are we going to be able to accommodate that between the sewage, not just with the water but that bathroom facilities are going to be a huge issue," Samantha Schreck-Ivey, south Utica resident said.
Matthew Klucznik, an architect working on this project, says all of the infrastructures has been verified.
"Our project team contacted all the local municipalities to determine if the infrastructure would support a building of this size and based upon that analysis and based upon the comparison of the existing use of the school which housed 100 individuals compared to the apartments, the infrastructure is adequate to support the building," Klucznik said.
Myers says construction is expected to start this fall.