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Irvington Ends Mercy College Hearing Amid Concerns

IRVINGTON, N.Y. — A contentious public hearing on the proposed Mercy College expansion's draft environmental impact statement has been closed, with the college now preparing the final impact statement on the project.

Residents in the surrounding Irvington and Dobbs Ferry community asked Irvington Planning Board members during the board's April meeting to address the many concerns that have been brought up in past hearings.

“Show the community some mercy,” said attorney David Steinmetz, who is representing the Ardsley Park Association. “Reduce and mitigate, but please don't exacerbate, the impacts from Mercy College.”

The college wants to build three 18,000-square-foot faculty office buildings and convert 5,000 square feet of Mercy Hall into a dormitory. The project also includes a 2,000-square-foot addition to an existing building that would be used as a meeting space.

Mercy College sits on 25 acres in Dobbs Ferry and 31 acres in Irvington. About 11,000 full-time and part-time students are enrolled at the college.

Several public hearings on the proposed development outlined residents' concerns over increased traffic and noise from a larger student and faculty population. Residents also want views of the Hudson River to be preserved.

Irvington residents in particular want Mercy College to begin using the entrance available in Dobbs Ferry to lessen their traffic burden.

Although most of the college’s buildings sit on the Dobbs Ferry side, “we bear the brunt of the traffic,” Patrick Gilmartin said. Gilmartin lives on Barney Park and says the traffic concerns give Irvington the right to prohibit the project. “Make certain that Dobbs Ferry gets its share of the traffic,” he said.

Irvington Planning Board member George Boyle said the board is suggesting that Mercy College increase its emphasis on transit, since it sits next to a Metro North rail station. Mercy College officials said residents needed to recognize that the college is under two jurisdictions and that approval from Dobbs Ferry on the project prohibits the use of the Dobbs Ferry entrance.

Boyle indicated it probably would make sense for the board to meet with Dobbs Ferry’s Planning Board to discuss the project.

Irvington resident Nicholas Moore thanked the board for its recent work session on the proposed project, saying, “We heard you raise many of our concerns and begin to consider how they should be addressed.” Moore asked that the board continue to address residents' concerns.

“Please be strident and forthright with Mercy,” he said, “so they understand the seriousness of the extent to which they need to adopt real and meaningful mitigation measures that address the impacts that exist today, and in some cases will be exacerbated, by Mercy's continued ability to operate as well as their ability to construct their proposal.”

Irvington Village Attorney Marianne Stecich noted the Planning Board will hold a hearing on the final environmental impact statement, although the law does not require the village to do so.

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