Yale’s plan to construct a three story, 400-car parking garage at 200 Prospect St. — a site that currently contains an asphalt parking lot and temporary storage facility — has been met with both support and opposition from community members.
University developers say the project will improve the part of campus near Ingalls Rink, while some neighborhood residents say they believe the new garage might damage the neighborhood’s character.
Michael Morand, associate vice president of New Haven and State Affairs, said the project is part of a general effort to develop and improve the campus, especially the Science Hill and social sciences area. Additionally, he said more parking spaces are required before the city will approve the construction of new chemistry and engineering buildings. The garage will provide parking for students and faculty, as well as event-goers to Ingalls Rink.
“These campus improvements help strengthen the neighborhood, as more positive activity leads people to live nearby,” Morand said.
Morand said the construction — which along with much of the surrounding area is already owned by the University — is part of a “long-standing principal” between Yale and the city that the University should develop properties it owns.
“We are the neighbors and we are literally building in our own backyard,” Morand said.
But some Mansfield Street residents are concerned about how the light, noise and pollution from the parking garage will affect the neighborhood.
“We have worked very hard to make this a nice neighborhood, and I don’t think we need a sterile parking garage facility right here,” Mansfield Street resident and homeowner Lisa Nielsen said. She added that a more appropriate location would be on Whitney Avenue closer to Science Park facilities.
Nielsen said she became suspicious when she noticed in recent years that Yale had started buying up a large portion of the properties on the north and east side of Mansfield Street. She said she knew something bad would be coming, and was concerned that property values would decrease.
“Many of us have been putting many tens of thousands of dollars into our homes — we were surprised they were planning to put a parking garage there,” Nielsen said.
But Howard Hebel, senior associate at Herbert S. Newman and Partners, the architecture firm constructing the garage, said the structure will be designed to be as unobtrusive as possible. Slanted grids lining the garage will keep car lights from seeping into the neighborhood, colored concrete will camouflage the walls, trees will separate the structure from nearby homes, and landscaping will restore the nearby wetlands area.
“We are doing these things in order to minimize all potential bad impacts of a parking garage,” Hebel said.
Furthermore, the parking entrance will be on Prospect rather than Mansfield Street, and the building will actually be lower than many of the structures on those streets.
“In the end, this supports something that is good for the overall area,” Morand said.
Mansfield Street residents Harold and Cecile Brodsky said they did not think the structure would intrude very much on the neighborhood.
“It’s not going to change us one iota,” Harold said. “I think it will help in certain ways.”
Harold Brodsky said in the 20 years he has lived on Mansfield Street, Yale has been very helpful in improving the neighborhood’s appearance and crime rates.
Cecile Brodsky, a real estate agent, said she did not think the value of the property would decrease with a garage, although she said she understands how it might be aesthetically unpleasing to residents living across from the structure. She said the garage would not eliminate the parking problem in the neighborhood, but it would reduce it greatly.
“I really don’t see it as a real big negative — they [Yale] certainly have done an awful lot to elevate living on this street — I don’t think it’s the end of the world,” Cecile said.
Harold Brodsky said he did not agree with most of the complaints residents voiced against the garage at a city hall meeting with Yale.
“No matter what you do, you’re going to have people that complain,” he said.
Official plans for the Yale garage are expected to be submitted to the Board of Zoning Appeals in March. So far, the City Plan Commission has approved construction within a wetland buffer area for the garage.
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