Community to MC: You owe us a lot

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Has Manhattan College been hoarding spots meant for the public in its Broadway garage? 

According to Community Board 8 Land Use chair and New York State Dormitory Authority board member Charles Moerdler, the answer is yes. The school is legally required to offer parking to the public. 

The issue came to light when residents who live on Waldo Avenue near Manhattan College asked the school if they could use its parking garage during the planned two-year construction of a 69,000-square-foot student commons on the east side of Waldo Avenue overlooking Gaelic Park. The construction will mean the temporary loss of 20 street parking spots. 

Manhattan College did not respond and Mr. Moerdler said at a Dec. 5 CB 8 meeting he was losing patience with the school. So he did some digging and said he found that the college received public funds to help finance the five-level garage and is required to grant a certain amount of community access. 

The school made promises to that effect ahead of community board approval of the garage, which was completed in 2008. The bottom floor of the garage was even supposed to house a Pathmark grocery store. 

But the deal fell through and instead of allowing public access to the garage, MC has been leasing spaces to a local Chrysler dealership.

Spaces in the lot could not only solve a problem of parking on Waldo Avenue as MC builds its new student commons but could also help accommodate users of Van Cortlandt Park. 

President Brendan O’Donnell wrote a letter to Mr. Moerdler, which Mr. Moerdler read at the Dec. 13 board meeting, saying he has every confidence that the school will be able to make parking arrangements for community members.

Spokeswoman for Manhattan College Liz Connolly said certain issues still need to be addressed. 

“The College has been in conversation with neighborhood organizations about the possibility of making the garage available on occasion for special events. There are logistical issues to work out including event dates, hiring staff to manage the garage, collecting cash, etc., and these issues and conversations continue to be discussed,” she wrote in an e-mail.

Ms. Connolly said the school has made parking available for neighboring institutions on special occasions and that the school offered parking to a nearby building while its garage was under construction.

She also said the school is still looking to find a retailer for the bottom of the garage.

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