By Isabella Martinelli and Robyn Graygor
New plantings atop a hillside on the Broadview construction site (Photo by Robyn Graygor)
New plantings are seen popping up across the Broadview construction site signifying that the facility will be up and running by this time next year. Students are assured that environmental concerns are under control, attests President and Chair of Purchase Senior Learning Community Inc., Elizabeth Robertson.
Robertson announced that Broadview construction will be wrapping up by next August if all goes according to plan.
“It [the construction] is supposed to end next August,” said Robertson. “So as those buildings begin to get completed the landscaping will begin.”
Planting has started already and can be seen from a roadside view as well.
“Some of them [the plantings] have already gone in,” said Robertson. “That landfill is planted with grass and the area around the villas will probably be next because some of those villas are almost done.”
As promised, plantings chosen for the site are an array of native vegetation, specifically chosen to thrive in the climate and soil type, according to Michael Kopas, senior director of facilities and capital planning at Purchase.
“Care was taken to predominantly use native species,” said Kopas.
Trees include Red Maple, River Birch, American Beach, Northern Red Oak, Atlantic White Cedar, American Holly, and Eastern White Pine. Shrubs and ornamental trees include Eastern Redbud, Sweetbay Magnolia, Red Twig Dogwood, Inkberry Holly, and Cherry Laurel.
Wayne Rush, project manager for Broadview, assures that the new vegetation will be properly cared for.
A caution sign plastered to a tall wire fence restricting access to the Broadview construction site (Photo by Robyn Graygor)
“The grounds will be well cared for by landscape maintenance professionals,” said Rush. “And that the community will be conscientious and responsible in its use of landscape maintenance products.”
According to Kopas, the land was predominantly mid-succession mixed hardwood forest, except for a 12-acre portion in the middle of the site that was formerly a landfill.
According to Robertson, the landfill was full of construction debris dating back to the late 1990s, which grew into a mound with overgrown vegetation.
“There’s nothing bad in the landfill and there never has been, it was just sort of construction debris,” Robertson says. “But no weird stuff.”
Of course, a big change to the physical landscape of campus is sure to grab the attention of students. Many have expressed concerns over the construction on the land, as well as the demolition of popular student hangout spot, dubbed “the dunes.”
MJ Lee, a senior on campus, says she “didn’t get to know that part of campus that well, but it is a loss” for the school and student community. Although, as Lee goes on to say, it’s “not like the campus is so small,” that new nature spots cannot be found, seeing as how sprawling the nature on campus still is.
View of plantings behind a trench splitting the construction site (Photo by Robyn Graygor)
In order to lease the 40 acres to build on state lands, the legislature needed to approve the project, which included a few stipulations. One of these stipulations was the delegation of 80 acres of campus land to be preserved as “forever wild,” to combat habitat loss and improve sustainability in addition to native plantings.
“The forever wild plot is existing woodland on campus that has been identified to be free of any campus expansion,” said Kopas.
The second stipulation to the project was ensuring that 20 percent of the units that were built had to be affordable. The third was the only purpose for any proceeds from the lease of the land would go to student scholarships and faculty support. Robertson states that this was all approved by the state legislature.
Seventeen rain gardens and bioretention areas have also been established throughout the site to assist wetlands in their efforts to mitigate stormwater runoff.
“Rain gardens and bioretention areas retain runoff, promote water infiltration back into the ground, and use wet-tolerant vegetation to further absorb and filter runoff from streets, parking lots, and other impervious areas,” said Kopas.
Joseph Dittmer, Whiting-Turner Contracting Company (the contracting company for Broadview) project manager, explained that both five detention systems have been installed to manage stormwater runoff as well, along with approximately 11 bioretention ponds to hold water specifically during large rain events.
“These detention systems are constructed out of precast concrete and plastic pipe and allow the temporary storage of over 97,000 cubic feet of water underground,” said Dittmer.
“In addition to the underground storage, we also have multiple Bioretention Ponds throughout the site that vary in size and can hold vast amounts of water.”
Some wetland areas were disrupted throughout the construction process but were said to be safe to operate on due to a lack of threatened or endangered species.
“There was a 2,000 square foot permanent disturbance of wetlands for a road crossing and approximately ½ acre of temporary wetland disturbances for installation of silt fence and underground utilities such as the sanitary sewer connection,” said Rush.
There were also around five public meetings held in the Durst Humanities building to give the floor to concerned community members as a part of The State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) review process.
“The project went through a thorough state-mandated environmental study and quality review, at which time any concerns from interested parties, which included local residents and adjacent municipalities, were heard and addressed,” said Rush.
Anne Gold, board member and the previous executive director of the Purchase Environmental Protective Association (PEPA,) recalls that her organization did feel uneasy about the Broadview project at one point but supported the initiative in the end.
“At one point we were very concerned about it [Broadview] and then we met with the president [of Purchase college] and at the end of the day it seemed to be a worthy project,” said Gold.
Trench funneling runoff away from the site, plastic litter lays close to the edge (Photo by Robyn Graygor)
However, Robertson remembers this exchange differently, claiming that PEPA never expressed discontent with Broadview.
“I don’t remember there was anything that changed their mind, I don’t think that they were ever against it,” said Robertson.
Whether or not PEPA was convinced to approve the project or not, in the end, the group did view Broadview as a valuable operation.
Now, as construction continues, and progress is made, everyone who worked to make Broadview a possibility is beginning to see the fruits of their labors.
“We worked exceedingly hard last year at this time to ensure that we had everything in place in our contract with our general contractors to ensure that we would not be vulnerable to inflation, to labor shortages, to supply chain mix-ups,” said Robertson.
If everything continues to go as planned, Purchase will be able to welcome this new functioning element to their campus by next year.
“People are supposed to move in September [of next year]. The construction is on time and on budget right now. The community should be underway next fall when you come back,” said Robertson.