That guarantee has not quieted calls for the university to find alternative locations to the hotel. In letters penned to President Stanley and local newspapers, community members offer up dozens of other locations on campus, some more feasable than others. One person, Michael Meltzer, even went so far as to suggest that the hotel replace LaValle Stadium, which he describes as “ridiculous, unnecessary [and] overly-lit.”
Steve Fiore-Rosenfeld, who represents Stony Brook University and the surrounding community on the Brookhaven Town Council, suggested a few alternative locations as well in a letter to President Stanley.
On land near the hospital, on land near the South P lot, and north of the Wang Center, near Mendelssohn Quad were just three suggestions put forth by Fiore-Rosenfeld.
Perhaps the most interesting suggestion, however, centers on the Student Union. Fiore-Rosenfeld joins a number of faculty and community members who call for the Student Union building to be replaced entirely with a new multi-story building that would feature a hotel, shops, restaurants and, as now, offices for student organizations.
“This site would be a better fit for both on-campus activity and off-campus concerns,” said Fiore-Rosenfeld.
But Marburger argues that the current location is the only truly viable option.
“There’s a reason for it being where it is. It has to be close to a main road, otherwise you can’t make it work,” he said.
“It would be difficult to get financing for it if you couldn’t more or less guarantee a certain occupancy rate,” he added. Exposure to a main road, in this case Nichols Road, would help offset the fact that the university would likely only be able to provide the hotel with consistent business eight months out of the year, when classes are in session.
Exposure to Nichols Road is the exact thing that other community members fear.
“The university has an obligation to be sensitive to the confines of the property and the aesthetics of the property,” said State Senator John Flanagan, who represents the university and the surrounding community in Albany.
To date, the university has upheld a long-standing commitment with the community to maintain a buffer between Nichols Road and the campus. Members of the community fear that the construction of the hotel within this buffer of trees will violate that commitment.
“The deciduous trees that will be planted will not provide a sufficient screen for six months of the year,” said Muriel Weyl, a Stony Brook community member for 42 years.
“The green strip on both sides of Nichols Road is a very important and irreplaceable aesthetic asset,” said Carl Safina, President of the Blue Ocean Institute and a faculty member in the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences. “It would be our shame to violate this lovely campus greenbelt, especially for a commercial building.”
Despite the expressed concerns by community members and lawmakers, the university has shown no signs of slowing down their plans. It will likely take significantly more pressure by students, faculty and community members to derail the proposal.
Pressure may be something Charles Perretti is willing to provide. He is the father of a student in the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences, and he’s prepared to stop construction on the site at all costs.
“I am even willing to lay my body down in front of the pay loaders,” he said.