New colleges may line Prospect St.

If the University decides to build two new residential colleges, they likely will be located north of the Grove Street Cemetery along Prospect Street, Yale President Richard Levin said at a faculty meeting last week.

While Levin disclosed last month that the University is examining the feasibility of building two new residential colleges, no Yale officials have previously commented on where the new colleges would be located. An August agreement with the city to acquire three dead-end streets immediately north of the cemetery had fueled speculation that the area would be home to new colleges.

Deputy Provost Charles Long, who was present at the meeting, said Levin revealed the location during the faculty discussion.

“[Levin] agreed that the site has been identified, and Prospect corner is looking right now like the most promising one,” Long said. “Beyond Grove Street on the left side of Prospect is all he said.”

Levin was unavailable for comment Monday.

In August, the city agreed to abandon the three streets — a location which had been seen as a possible site for any new colleges — in return for $10 million of University-funded infrastructure improvements in the surrounding area. The agreement will soon be approved by the Board of Aldermen, Michael Morand, the associate vice president of New Haven and state affairs, said Monday.

“The president’s remarks and the development agreement fit together,” Morand said. “The whole purpose of the development agreement is to identify and have a site for future development, and then to plan rationally.”

In its recommendation of the agreement, the City Plan Commission said that the University indicated the area was intended for “academic/residential purposes, including new residential colleges,” while the 2000 University study “A Framework for Campus Planning” earmarked it as a possible site for new residential housing.

With the three abandoned streets — Prospect Place as well as parts of Mansfield Street and Sachem Street — the University will have a nearly uninterrupted three-block parcel that would be suitable for new colleges. The site encompasses the area between Prospect Street and Canal Street, stretching north to Sachem Street, which abuts Ingalls Rink.

But while the location of the new colleges now seems certain, whether or not the University will actually decide to build them is still unclear, Dean of Administrative Affairs John Meeske said.

“As I understand it, it’s just an investigation,” Meeske said. “I believe no decision has been made.”

At the monthly faculty meeting last Thursday, Levin said that the University is proceeding with the planning for new colleges and would undertake a more comprehensive study in the coming year depending on the results of the current ongoing study, according to Long.

“I think [it] was essential for him to do it,” Long said. “I’m pleased it was announced in an appropriately preliminary way rather than appearing to be some kind of secret.”

Associate Vice President for Finance Janet Ackerman, who is leading the study, was on vacation Monday and could not be reached for comment.

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