SBU Hilton Hotel: To build or not to build?

Last Friday I attended a debate between Stony Brook University Vice President for Facilities & Services Barbara Chernow and Professor Malcolm Bowman of the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences at the SAC’s Auditorium. The issue at hand? Whether if it was right to proceed with the construction of a five story, 135 room Hilton hotel right at SBU’s Main Entrance.

Chernow explained the reasons why the university  needs a hotel: as a research university, Stony Brook must accommodate all of the professionals who visit the school yearly for conferences and other events, also, those individuals who had family member at the near-by Health Center  would be able to stay there too. The lease for this hotel was granted by New York State Legislature to the Stony Brook Foundation in 1989. Throughout the years hotel developers that were interested in building the hotel were rejected because their proposals violated the ground lease rules.

However, as Bowman said, things aren’t so clear cut. It is not a matter of needing the hotel, because it seems evident by now that more space is needed, at least, for conferencing. But, what Bowman and many others oppose, including the Setauket Fire Department, is the area in which the hotel is going to be built. Ecologists say that this is going to be disastrous for the living creatures and nature of the 11 acres prescribed. Members from the community argue that Nicholls Rd. has never been commercialized and that after this, many other areas would be destroyed. Also, that a hotel right at the entrance is neither pretty nor representative of what Stony Brook University is about.

What many proposed at this debate was to relocate the hotel, maybe over to the hospital side, or another location, but out of where is going to be built.

The problem is, that even with a debate, things aren’t stopping. Bowman said after the debate that even though people were mad, the contracts and agreements had been signed and that it would be very difficult to stop this process. Besides, this is the first major test for Stony Brook’s new president Samuel L. Stanley Jr. and he has already announced to the world that this was going to happen. It is unlikely that he will change that decision so early in this presidency.

What do you think about this? Vote below!

Picture from richardwiseman.wordpress.com

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