The Conservation Advisory Council was created by the Common Council in 2015. It spent the first four years of its existence assembling the city's natural resources and open space inventory, Nature in the City, which was presented to the Common Council in May 2019. Since that was accomplished, the CAC has started to function in the manner those of us who supported its creation always hoped it would: interjecting concern for the environment, informed by knowledge and expertise, into development plans for the city. A case in point being the parking lot Columbia Memorial Health plans to build at 30 Prospect Avenue.
This was the plan proposed to the Planning Board on March 9.
This is the revised plan presented to the Planning Board this past Tuesday, April 13, and given site plan approval.
The changes to the plan came as a result of the letter from the CAC, which made recommendations for ways to improve the site. The changes to the proposal include the introduction of a low-growing pollinator shrub, dark sky compliant lighting, and solar-powered crosswalk signs. Hilary Hillman of the CAC called the proposal "very respectful" and noted, "There is shade that comes off of that hill."
The plan for the parking lot was approved despite Planning Board member Clark Wieman's objections to demolishing a building to "put up a parking lot" (h/t Joni Mitchell). He talked about the building's "aesthetic value" and said he thought it was a cool building. Speaking for CMH, Tim Moot said it was cost prohibitive to update the building to current standards and suggested, referencing the temporary medical facilities created during the pandemic, that tents set up in a parking lot would be a more viable medical space than this building.