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Ex-Ithacan Dec 31, 2008 3:09 PM

I have the feeling real consolidation just isn't going to happen.

Town, city consider consolidating services
By Krisy Gashler • • December 31, 2008

ITHACA — A long-awaited report on shared services — and potentially consolidation — between the City of Ithaca and Town of Ithaca is scheduled for public release in the next month.

The report comes just as the city and town are trying to work through two contentious shared service agreements: a joint sewer plant land transfer, with its impacts on the Ithaca Farmer's Market, and a joint fire protection contract, which has been delayed with negotiations for a year.

In a geographic anomaly, one municipality, the City of Ithaca, is completely surrounded by another municipality, the Town of Ithaca. This can create confusion for the myriad visitors and transplants who come to the area knowing only “Ithaca.”

It also creates some headaches for leaders of both municipalities, whose planning, zoning, transportation and housing efforts are inextricably linked but are decided by entirely different governing bodies.

The idea of consolidating the two municipalities into one is not a new one, City Mayor Carolyn Peterson said.

“Over the last three decades, council members have been talking about consolidation consistently,” Peterson said. “Many in the city of course have a viewpoint toward consolidation. The town is probably more toward shared services.”

As with many things, the sticking point is money.

The property tax rate in the city in 2008 is $12.23 per $1,000 assessed value. In the town, it's $5.60.

The debt load difference is even more stark. Total outstanding debt in the city at the end of 2008 is roughly $47 million. In the town it's $6 million.

Town Supervisor Herb Engman said the economic analyses in the new report generally reflect the different economic realities in the city versus the town.

“This report itself shows that some people will save a lot of money and other people will not save a lot of money,” Engman said.

New York is pushing heavily for local municipalities to consolidate or share services, making the argument that too many local governments are in part to blame for the state's notoriously high property taxes.

Peterson wouldn't comment on specifics of the report until it is released but said it will be important for Ithacans of both municipalities to decide whether they believe consolidation will save money for everyone in the long run.

“The other thing is, does it, and can it, save money,” Peterson said. “That's certainly what the governor and other officials in the state are looking at.”

Engman argued that if the state really wants to encourage consolidation, they need to clear these kinds of financial hurdles by, for example, taking on the debt load of the higher-debt municipality or allowing the new joint municipality to charge different tax rates for some time after the merger.

“Because obviously, why would any group of citizens approve of a consolidation if they're going to lose a lot of money? That doesn't make much sense,” he said.

Both Engman and Peterson said that in spite of the difficulties they've encountered trying to resolve the fire contract and sewer plant land issues, it's worthwhile to look for more opportunities to share services.

Ithaca Town Board member Peter Stein was one of the 10 to 12 people who worked for the past roughly 1 1/2 years to create the forthcoming consolidation/shared services report, he said.

Stein said he's not convinced that consolidation would actually save taxpayers much money.

Road crews and water and sewer workers would still be needed to maintain infrastructure, and many municipalities share services or expensive equipment already, he said.

Even so, the interconnectedness of the two Ithacas means consolidation deserves at least a hard look, Stein said.

“The town provides things that the city doesn't, namely open spaces and open spaces are important to everyone who lives in this area. And the city provides something the town couldn't live without, namely a commercial shopping center, a downtown. So both jurisdictions profit from the other and their quality of life depends on the health of the other,” he said. “I think at this particular time, at a time of great turmoil in the United States ... it's the right time to look at it and see if we can't face the future problems together better than we could individually.”

Ex-Ithacan Jan 8, 2009 11:30 AM

Things take forever to get going in Ithaca sometimes. Hopefully this will be a big plus for Cornell's Art,Architecture & Planning school.

Milstein Hall site plan gets preliminary OK
By Krisy Gashler • • January 8, 2009

ITHACA - Cornell's Milstein Hall project will benefit Cornell and the public while minimizing negative impacts, Ithaca's Planning Board decided.

The Board voted unanimously Tuesday night to grant preliminary site plan approval to the $54 million project that includes a new, 59,000-square-foot building that will connect Rand and Sibley halls and stretch over University Avenue toward the Foundry.

A new Central Avenue Parking Garage will also provide 199 parking spaces on three levels, two of them underground.

The project has been delayed for at least five years with various designs and, most recently, a dispute between the university and the city's Board of Public Works over the proposal to place part of the building over University Avenue.

After months of disagreement, the university decided to use a cantilever design rather than columns, which would have required an easement from the city. Separately, Cornell and the city later agreed that Cornell would pay to rebuild and maintain the badly deteriorated University Avenue in exchange for the city's decision to give up its public right of way on the road.

The planning board has been reviewing an environmental impact statement on Milstein for the past two months and has heard comments from Ithacans and Art, Architecture and Planning faculty and students for and against the project.

Cornell and those in favor of the project have argued that the additional space is needed to maintain the Art, Architecture and Planning College's accreditation and to programmatically connect the three buildings.

Planning Board Chairman John Schroeder said the existing conditions leave the Foundry disconnected and looking "like a maintenance building." Milstein Hall would move the center of activity more toward the middle, better linking the buildings, he said.

Those against the project have argued that the very modern design of Milstein Hall will be jarring next to the historic Rand and Sibley halls.

Ithaca's Landmarks Preservation Commission will review historic preservation concerns related to the project at their meeting at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 14 in City Hall, 108 E. Green St. The commission would have to grant a Certificate of Appropriateness for Milstein Hall to be built, Acting Planning Director JoAnn Cornish said by e-mail.

Cornell also needs final site plan approval from the Planning Board, which could come at its Jan. 27 meeting, Cornish said.

John Gutenberger, director of community relations at Cornell, said if the final approvals are granted, construction could start by early spring. Milstein Hall is not subject to the university's construction pause, he said.

The project would be complete by December 2010, project manager Andrew Magre said.

Ex-Ithacan Jan 23, 2009 11:09 AM

I can't believe there is still debate about a 90 foot height limit!!! :rolleyes:

There are three months left in the City of Ithaca's moratorium on construction in Collegetown, seen Thursday afternoon looking west across the intersection of College Avenue and Dryden Road. Common Council is debating an urban plan that addresses issues of building height, density and transportation. (SIMON WHEELER / Staff Photo)

'Neighbors' debate Collegetown plan
By Krisy Gashler • • January 23, 2009

ITHACA - There seems to be no clear direction for Common Council's action on the Collegetown urban plan, with wide-ranging differences of opinion among Council members on height, density and the controversial transportation plan.

Council held its first actual discussion of the urban plan at a planning committee meeting Wednesday night. Though the committee includes only five Council members, eight of the 10, plus Mayor Carolyn Peterson, attended and participated.

The wide-ranging discussion, including public comment from half a dozen permanent residents, branched beyond the plan itself to the more basic issue of what makes a "neighbor" and "neighborhood" in Collegetown.

In one emotional exchange, permanent Bryant Park resident Joanne Trutko and Alderman Svante Myrick, D-4th and the only student on Common Council, each outlined their scenarios for talking to a neighbor in Collegetown.

Trutko said if the Collegetown urban plan is accepted, with its proposed increases in height and density in the core, a neighborhood conversation would go like this:

"My investors and I have bought the property next door to you on Linden Avenue. Oh by the way, we're tearing it down. Oh neighbor, instead of taking up 45 percent of the land, we're going to take up 65 percent of the land. So, neighbor, say goodbye to your air and sun, light and a garden," Trutko said. "Oh, and did I mention, neighbor, we're not putting in any parking? I know that is a key problem that was identified in the neighborhood plan ... but what are two- to three-hundred more cars on Linden Avenue?"

Myrick responded that "I live in a neighborhood, too," and without the urban plan, and the new development it is meant to spur, conversations with his neighbors will continue to go like this:

"I say, 'Hey neighbor, how's it going?' And they say, 'It's not going too well for me. I'm paying $1,200 a month to live in an apartment that's too small, too tight, has no light, has no air, and I have no choice because there are no vacancies left.' Or, 'my landlord's unresponsive because he knows there's nothing else I can do,' ... 'I live in a place that's unsafe. I live in a place that's falling down,'" Myrick said.

Aside from near-unanimous support for design guidelines in Collegetown, Council members split on critical aspects of the urban plan, especially the "sustainable transportation plan."

That plan calls for increasing density in Collegetown while reducing or eliminating developers' parking requirements. It recommends the city control parking using market tactics like drastically increasing the price to park on the street and de-coupling parking from rent so that renters see exactly how much of their rent goes to their housing and how much goes to parking.

Alderwoman Jennifer Dotson, I-1st, noted the success with which Cornell controls parking on its campus using a variety of tools, notably very expensive parking.

"To be blunt, I think some parking pressure is a tool we can use," to encourage students not to bring cars, Dotson said.

Alderwoman Maria Coles, D-1st, said the transportation plan is "absolutely the weakest part of the plan."

The plan suggests the city allow developers to pay a fee to the city in lieu of constructing on-site parking. The fee is meant to fund things such as alternative transportation, pedestrian and bike improvements, and potentially a remote parking garage.

"Without knowing where that long-term parking is going to be located, how are we to know how much developers should be charged?" Coles said.

Alderman Dan Cogan, D-5th, said that while neighborhood concern about parking spillover is valid, the city will have to do something to make a substantial change in how many students bring cars to Ithaca.

Council members may feel it's anathema to their principles to use market forces that allow only the wealthiest to park, but they should look past that to the greater good of improving alternative transportation for all students, Cogan said.

Alderwoman Mary Tomlan, D-3rd, said permanent residents in and near Collegetown worked hard to establish their residential parking permit system and the city should think very carefully before altering a system that has worked.

One component of the transportation plan calls for allowing students to buy expensive permits to park in nearby neighborhoods. In comments before a variety of city boards, permanent residents have universally disliked this idea.

Alderman Eric Rosario, I-2nd, said the transportation plan and its goals to charge for the true cost of parking is both the most "seductive" and the "weakest" part of the plan.

Even with developers paying in-lieu fees, "the city's going to end up paying a lot more than we'd ever get from developers," Rosario said. In addition, enforcing the parking plan would cost the city more in police time, he said.

On allowing 90-foot-high buildings in the core of Collegetown, another plan recommendation opposed by permanent residents, several Council members expressed reservations.

Peterson said she thinks the plan's goals can still be met without going to 90 feet.

Alderman Joel Zumoff, D-3rd, said one of the primary goals of the urban plan was to increase the density in Collegetown to prevent renter sprawl into neighborhoods.

"I don't know how you're going to do that without building up," he said.

With the 18-month construction moratorium in Collegetown ending in April, Peterson suggested Council aim for the "low-hanging fruit" in the plan and work from there in the future.

Ex-Ithacan Jan 28, 2009 12:42 PM

Some good news for downtown Ithaca & Cornell.

Urban Outfitters coming to downtown Ithaca
Cornell gets final approval to build Milstein Hall
By Krisy Gashler • • January 28, 2009

ITHACA - Urban Outfitters, a college-age focused national retailer, will open in the bottom floor of the new Cayuga Green apartments this summer.

And after 10 years and multiple architects, Cornell has received its final approval to build Milstein Hall.

David Levy, an Ohio-based architect working on behalf of Urban Outfitters, presented renovation plans to Ithaca's Planning Board Tuesday night.

Urban Outfitters will take up the entire retail storefront along Green Street, Levy said. Construction will likely begin around the end of March or beginning of April, and the store should be open for business by mid-summer, he said.

Incorporated in 1976, Urban Outfitters sells clothing, accessories and housewares aimed at consumers 18-30 years old, according to a history of the company on its Web site. The company generally locates in large metropolitan areas and college towns. Levy said the large college-age market is what attracted the company to Ithaca.

The economic recession is not a big concern for the company, Levy said.

"They're very good at operating in these kinds of environments," he said.

Third-quarter 2008 sales for Urban Outfitters, Inc., actually grew 10 percent over the previous year, while most retailers shrunk, according to Reuters news service.

Ithaca's Planning Board granted preliminary approval Tuesday for the renovations necessary to accommodate the retailer. The vote on final approval should come next month, Planning Board Chairman John Schroeder said.

The Board also granted final site plan approval for Cornell's Milstein Hall and Central Avenue Parking Garage on University Avenue.

The vote was the last in a marathon design and approval process that began roughly 10 years ago and included "multiple designs and multiple architects," said John Gutenberger, Cornell's director of community relations.

Accreditation of the top-ranked Department of Architecture has been jeopardized because of inadequate space, university officials have said.

"The university obviously is very pleased," Gutenberger said, adding thanks to the city's Planning Board and Landmarks Preservation Commission for their work. "The project has improved as it went through the process."

Milstein Hall is not subject to the university construction pause, so construction is scheduled to begin in early spring. Project completion is expected by December 2010, project manager Andrew Magre said.

Dr Nevergold Jan 29, 2009 4:32 AM


Ex-Ithacan Jan 29, 2009 11:19 PM

^ Thanks Brandon, but actually that is my old neighborhood in Ithaca: Collegetown. Collegetown is across Cascadilla Gorge from Cornell University and about 6 blocks up East Hill from downtown. Fun place to grow up. Here's a link to some pics of Ithaca I took in 2005:

And here's a bunch from 2008:


Ex-Ithacan Jan 30, 2009 1:41 PM

Summary of recent downtown Ithaca activity:

Report to the community — Downtown Ithaca Alliance: Capitalizing on a year of success
By Gary Ferguson • Guest Columnist • January 30, 2009

2008 was a year of significant accomplishments in downtown Ithaca. Along with the completion of several major projects, foundations were laid for many activities in 2009 that will help our downtown continue to be a thriving business and commercial center for years to come. It would certainly be easy, however, to overlook these accomplishments given the concerns we have about the national economy.

As our nation's economic turbulence filters into Ithaca and Tompkins County, we feel the repercussions. Investment slows, not because of any structural weakness in the Ithaca economy but out of simple caution. Consumer purchasing likewise may also slow, again not due to any drastic local events but because of broader fears.

My End of 2008/Beginning of 2009 message to the business community is twofold:

* Let us take stock of our recent successes and future plans, and;

* Be active participants and consumers in our downtown economy.

There was much to laud in downtown Ithaca in 2008. The $40 Million Cayuga Green project took a giant step forward when Cayuga Place, a mixed-use building on Green Street, opened in August. Its 68 apartment units were fully leased within two weeks, sending a clear message that there is a demand for housing in downtown Ithaca. Interest in its ground-floor retail space is very strong, reflecting the property's excellent location.

The City's Green Street Garage was re-opened, bringing 450 parking spaces in the city's urban core back on line. In late November, the garage's new elevator became operational, allowing full access to this key downtown parking facility.

Properties in downtown Ithaca are rarely put up for sale, but when they are, demand is strong. This trend continued in 2008. High-tech firm Concept Systems Inc. purchased, renovated and relocated to 136 The Commons. Vintage clothing retailer Petrune purchased 126 The Commons, which is also a larger space, and relocated from around the corner on Cayuga Street. Petrune also plans to renovate the upper floors of its building. These are two prime examples of the belief many people have in the strength of downtown Ithaca, despite broader concerns about the national economy.

New businesses continued to open in downtown in 2008. Among them are Avanti!, Diaspora Gallery, Warren Real Estate, That Burrito Place, Ameritalia Pizzeria, Jillian's Drawers, Brotchen, Blue Bird Antiques, the Ithaca Antique Center and Dino's Mediterranean Deli. Avanti! represents a second downtown business for a female entrepreneur. Warren Real Estate and That Burrito Place expanded existing businesses into downtown. Other downtown business expansions in 2008 included Shangri-La Gifts, Homegrown Board Shop, Providence Hobbies and Multi-Faceted Minerals. All relocated to larger downtown spaces.

The Commons went through a summertime emergency repair program and, thanks to close cooperative work with the City and the contractor, there was little or no business disruption.

Festivals and special events continued to attract people to downtown in record numbers, with the Ithaca Festival being the only exception. A changed Ithaca Festival date and format proved too much for the community, and plans are now set to return the festival to its traditional date and format in 2009. Downtown Ithaca also added a highly successful Office Worker Appreciation Week to its list of activities in 2008.

Looking ahead, there is considerable optimism despite concerns about the national economy. Two major downtown projects will break ground in 2009. The Hotel Ithaca, the land sale for which was approved in 2008, will begin construction with an eye toward opening in 2010. This 100-plus-room landmark hotel will be designed by nationally renowned Gensler Architects and operated as a luxury boutique hotel by Gemstone Properties. The Cayuga Green condominium project is also scheduled to begin construction this spring. This 25-plus-unit project will be along Six Mile Creek behind the Cayuga Street garage, and will be the final piece of the Cayuga Green project.

The Downtown Ithaca Alliance will also run its Main Street façade improvement program in 2009. More than 18 separate facades will be renovated, transforming the look of downtown. Money to support this program came from a New York Main Street grant awarded to the DIA in 2008.

Look for other changes in 2009. The historic Clinton House has a new owner. The State Theatre is working to solidify its record of growth over the past two years into a plan for long-term stability. The Kitchen Theatre is moving to its own building on West State Street. The Finger Lakes Wine Center, delayed in 2008, is planning a 2009 opening.

We are hopeful that planning for the future of The Commons will take place in 2009. The City should be entering into a contract with a consulting team in the near future to assess the options for repairs and renovations to this community landmark. We also expect to see continued new retail and office growth in 2009. The pipeline of interested parties is strong, and the DIA and City will be working hard to bring new businesses to the urban core.

This record of success helps to temper the economic roller coaster we are all riding. Ithaca's basic assets remain strong and suggest that downtown is a robust and logical investment choice in the months and years to come.

My second point is to urge us all to remember downtown and local businesses when we are doing our shopping and dining. People like our downtown because it has so many locally owned and operated businesses. These one-of-a-kind shops and eateries help form the character of our community that we all love and appreciate. It is incumbent upon us to do what can to help support and nurture these businesses and the character they provide to our community.

Please make a conscious point to visit downtown in 2009, and explore some of our shops, stores, and restaurants. Talk to the owners. Learn about the incredible selection of goods that can be found in our local stores. Do your part to help our community.

Gary Ferguson is the executive director of the Downtown Ithaca Alliance.

Dr Nevergold Jan 30, 2009 5:56 PM


Ex-Ithacan Jan 31, 2009 6:51 PM

^ I do have to say Ithaca isn't quite the typical upstate city. The economy is education based, and not as susceptable to the downturn from manufacturing job losses as most other upstate cities. Ithaca also leans a lot more to the left than most other upstate cities.

Ex-Ithacan Feb 3, 2009 11:15 AM

A local newspaper doesn't seem too thrilled with a positive rticle about Ithaca in the US Airways in-flight magazine:

Carsten Morgan, director of special projects for Pace Communications, displays the first page of a section about Ithaca in the US Airways Magazine Monday during a press conference in Ithaca. The piece produced in cooperation with Tompkins County Area Development is in the February edition of the airline's magazine. A detail of Weill Hall on the Cornell University campus is shown in the cover picture. (SIMON WHEELER / Staff Photo)

US Airways magazine highlights Ithaca
By Tim Ashmore • • February 3, 2009

An in-flight magazine featuring Ithaca this month skips any economic dark spots and paints a rosy portrait of an area of relative growth and prosperity.

US Airways magazine features a 16-page story touching on Ithaca's quality of life, sustainable growth and the collaboration between government, business and not-for-profits that Carsten Morgan, the director of special projects for publishing company Pace Communications Inc., said will reach about 5.8 million fliers in February.

The readers of US Airways magazine, Morgan said, are a more concentrated group of high-end business folks than readers of Fortune Magazine, Forbes or Business Week.

The story focuses primarily on Cornell University, the technology that turns into business from the university, the sustainable building and growth practices and general prosperity in the area compared to other struggling Upstate cities.

Morgan said Ithaca was picked for the story because of its national anonymity, relatively low unemployment rate, high quality of life, strong higher education foundation and because of the success of US Airways from the Mid-Atlantic to Maine.

"The reputation that Upstate New York gets quite frankly isn't all that positive. The story here in Ithaca is just so much better than that perception," Morgan said.

Unemployment in Tompkins County is lower than the national rate of 7.1 percent and the state rate of 6.8 percent, and unemployment climbed 1.6 percent to 4.7 percent in December, according to Elia Kacapyr's economic index of Tompkins County.

The story praises BorgWarner's $40 million investment in 2007 that added 170 workers, while neglecting the 330 employees laid off since September 2008.

Likewise, aspects of the story that include Ithaca College and Cornell University make no mention of the job cuts or economic turmoil each institution is facing as the result of Cornell's eroding endowment and concerns over enrollment at Ithaca College.

Those facts come from a local perspective, and Morgan said the goal of the story was to gain national perspective on Ithaca.

"The perspective of a national writer is completely different," he said. "The strengths and assets that a region has isn't necessarily the same from a national perspective as what you think yourself. A lot of people need to keep in mind this isn't targeting people in greater Ithaca. It's targeting the rest of the world who don't know you exist."

Michael Stamm, president of Tompkins County Area Development, said that through the story entrepreneurs and CEOs from other parts of the county who are unfamiliar with Ithaca will have a chance to see the opportunities Ithaca offers.

Business leaders will "be able to read these articles and read about all the assets that the Ithaca community has to deliver to them if they located here as an entrepreneur or a CEO if they located a business unit here," he said. "We not only offer a very stable economy but we have intellectual capital here to support business development."

TCAD and Pace Communications collaborated to make the article possible.

Ex-Ithacan Feb 4, 2009 11:12 AM

Depressing news for my old hood:

Planning board wants to maintain existing building heights in Collegetown
By Krisy Gashler • • February 4, 2009

ITHACA - To improve the housing stock in Collegetown, Ithaca's Planning Board recommends less carrot and more stick.

The board made its recommendations Tuesday night on the Collegetown urban plan under consideration by Common Council.

A majority of the board wanted to maintain existing building heights in Collegetown and in some cases lower currently allowed heights. They also advocated for more staff in the city building department to better enforce building and exterior maintenance codes.

One of the most controversial aspects of the Collegetown plan is a recommendation to increase height of buildings in the core of Collegetown to 90 feet to provide an incentive for new development.

Chairman John Schroeder said he was concerned that development incentives in the plan would encourage landlords to tear down, rather than restore, beautiful old buildings.

Acting Planning Director JoAnn Cornish responded that the development incentives would encourage bad landlords to sell buildings that are unsafe for students to live in.

"I think a landlord who neglects their old property is going to neglect their new property," Schroeder said.

"A landlord that neglects his property will sell his property, and someone will buy it because they'll be able to build a 90-foot building so that they can realize a return on their investment and we'll have a much better building in its place," Cornish said. Board members Tessa Rudan, Jane Marcham and Jill Tripp advocated for no 90-foot buildings anywhere. Chairman John Schroeder said he would only consider allowing 90-foot buildings at the intersection of College Avenue and Dryden Road. Board member David Kay said he could be persuaded to allow 90-foot buildings in some additional areas with strict design guidelines.

Board member John Snyder was the lone voice on the board advocating for allowing all the height increases proposed in the plan, though members of city staff also advocated for taller buildings.

Rudan, a Collegetown landlord, said what the neighborhood needs is for the city to raise the bar on enforcing building code standards and to re-invest in Collegetown some of the enormous property tax revenue it generates.

Common Council will ultimately vote on what, if anything, in the Collegetown plan will be implemented.

A construction moratorium in Collegetown is set to expire in April.

Ex-Ithacan Feb 5, 2009 5:24 PM

I'm not trying to beat a dead horse, but this building height problem in my old neighbnorhood is really frustrating me. The character of the area changed years ago. Let them build up and increase the city tax base. :hell:
Cars travel through the intersection of College and Dryden avenues, the heart of Collegetown, where proposed changes to zoning and a design plan for new development will have the greatest impact. (Photo by Rachel Philipson)

The Ithaca Times online

Collegetown Crunch Time

Rob Montana
Managing Editor

April 12.

That's when the moratorium on development in Collegetown will expire, and when new design requirements and an accompanying new code will need to be in place to guide those looking to build there.

That is also just a little more than two months away, leaving the City of Ithaca working hard to get the regulations approved. The final approval is expected to be up for a vote at the Common Council's April 1 meeting.

"The moratorium is up April 12," said Leslie Chatterton, the city's historic preservation and neighborhood planner. "That is firm. No matter what is in place, that will end."

Whether or not the pieces will be in place is not yet determined, but Chatterton doesn't think there will be any issue with getting the final approval done by then. The plan is currently going through the adoption process, with updates and presentations given during the last four or five Planning and Economic Development Committee meetings.

"There have been presentations on each of the chapters (in the plan)," Chatterton said.

One hurdle will likely be cleared soon: The city Planning and Development Board was expected to make its recommendation to the Common Council at its special meeting Tuesday, Feb. 3.

"That ought to move things along as well," Chatterton said.

In conjunction with the Collegetown design plan, she said an accompanying code is being developed to address the Collegetown design proposals.

"It's a form-based code," Chatterton said, "which I distinguish from traditional code in that it emphasizes form over use.

In the case of Collegetown, she said, the use of the building is less important than how the building functions at its location.

"The Collegetown code will be sort of a hybrid between form-based and traditional, because there will be some use provisions mixed in, and the code will be just for the Collegetown area."

More moratorium?

It's not likely there will be an extension of the moratorium, which was originally set for a year and then extended by another six months this fall.

Alderperson Mary Tomlan, D-3rd, - who serves as chairperson of the Planning and Economic Development Committee - said the zoning surrounding the Collegetown design is complex (and what puts it into effect) and while her committee has heard a number of presentations regarding the design plan, it hasn't conducted much discussion about the zoning.

"At the last meeting, the committee had about an hour-long discussion of the plan itself, and the last 15 minutes were devoted to introductory comments about zoning," she said. "We really have a long ways to go in terms of discussing zoning.

"It is possible that would not be in place when the moratorium goes off," Tomlan added.

While she sees a benefit of extending the moratorium, even just a little bit longer, Tomlan doesn't think that will happen.

"It would make sense (to extend it) if it was important to have the moratorium in the first place, since the new zoning isn't in place, but I don't think anybody is willing to do that," she said, "but I don't think there is the political will.

"I'm not saying its playing politics in the sense of money and power," Tomlan added, "it's just clear there would be such an uproar that it would be difficult to extend it."

Tomlan said, however, some initial transition zoning could be put into place to address how development is done in the areas between the center of Collegetown and the nearby neighborhoods. She said that before the moratorium was in place, the Planning and Economic Development Committee was discussing zoning options for transition areas - just a small piece of the comprehensive proposals for Collegetown.

"At a minimum, we may be wanting to put that protection in place before the moratorium ends," Tomlan said. "It would be a more contained piece, but it would offer the protections we need.

"And then we would continue to work on the overall zoning, even if we didn't get it done in time for the April 1 Council meeting," she added.

That is expected to be up for discussion at the Planning and Economic Development Committee's next meeting, scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Feb. 18.

Tomlan said a pair of key points being proposed in the overall plan - reducing parking requirements and increasing the maximum heights - may not be in effect by the time the moratorium expires.

"If developers are counting on those two things, I don't think they'll be in place on April 12," she said. "In order to remove the parking requirement, there would need to be arrangements for remote lots.

"There would need to be some kind of relief valve for the parking that you would expect to come with new development," Tomlan added.

Parking and traffic concerns

The design plan is being worked up to generate more pedestrian traffic in Collegetown while reducing vehicular traffic. Chatterton said the plan aims to add incentives and enhancements in Collegetown to welcome walkers, though she cautioned the transformation wouldn't happen at once.

"It won't happen on April 12 that everybody is going to be walking around, it's going to happen over a period of time," Chatterton said. "That's what the goal is: To provide alternative transportation modes and options, such as remote parking."

The removal of parking requirements placed on developers has been one area of public concern about the proposed Collegetown regulations. Developers will be able to forgo putting in required parking by making a payment in lieu of parking fee, which would be based on what it would cost to put meet the parking requirements currently in place.

"The city would then work to provide enhancements that would allow parking elsewhere," Chatterton said.

But, the regulation wouldn't be dropped without infrastructure in place to make up for lost spaces.

"Most likely the parking requirements will stay as they are now until the city has time to put most of those other arrangements in place," Chatterton said. "I know there's a huge misconception about that, but there will be no change until the parking is provided for."

She also noted that the city's traffic engineers have thoroughly reviewed the chapter.

The latest information Tim Logue, of the city's Engineering Department, has seen - which was about two weeks ago - doesn't call for the removal of any parking requirements for developers.

"I have not seen the latest zoning proposal, but the latest one I saw said we weren't doing anything with parking," he said. "Presumably, we're going to keep the same, fairly steep parking requirements."

A complication with offering a payment in lieu of parking fee would be how to determine what the feel would be.

"There are a fair amount of logistical issues," Logue said. "Do you keep the same ratio? Do you make it looser or tighter?"

He also addressed a proposal to replace parking meters with "dynamic parking stations" that would allow the rates for parking at them to be changed based on day, time of day or any other factors the city could choose.

"That's one proposal that has come out of the plan, but that would not happen until there is a capital project," Logue said. "There will be a moderate expense to do that."

One misconception about the parking portion of the plan, Chatterton said, stems from a suggestion that if parking freed up in the surrounding neighborhoods - around the center of Collegetown - the city could possibly sell off those spaces to generate more income.

"There are spaces protected by residential parking permits and the suggestion was we could sell those extra spaces - if there was a surplus of parking - and turn that money back into neighborhood improvements," she said. "That is something the residents really oppose, because they can't see a time where the neighborhoods aren't overparked.

"I think the Common Council will make an effort to tweak the plan, so they can come up with something we can get started on and make adjustments accordingly," Chatterton added.

Tomlan thinks a detailed parking study needs to be done before changing parking space requirements for developers.

"I think it would be very useful, and the plan called for it, to have a parking study, but right now there isn't money budgeted for it," she said.

A study that checks the portions of residents that have cars, numbers of Collegetown businesses' employees that drive vehicles to work and who is parking on the streets or in lots would be beneficial, Tomlan said, when trying to determine what parking requirements to change and what would be needed to make up for those changes.

"We need a better profile before we start to change things drastically," she said. "From my perspective, I don't see that happening."

Collegetown canyon?

Another item that stirred a great deal of public outcry is the potential for a maximum height increase from 60-feet to 90-feet for buildings in the heart of Collegetown, which includes the intersection of College and Dryden avenues.

"That is still a big issue," Chatterton said. "A lot of people think it means more students, and will create density and traffic problems worse than are there right now."

While the 90-foot maximum height for the center of Collegetown is still part of the proposed changes, Chatterton said it only amounts to one more story on buildings.

"Right now, buildings are six stories tall (in the center of Collegetown)," she said. "The new code will allow for a very tall first story for enhanced retail space, which should attract more diverse retail operations.

"We have great merchants in Collegetown right now; this would just make it more diverse," Chatterton added.

She said that student housing only requires 10 feet from floor to floor, but that's not what the code is being designed for.

"We're looking for other development, like office space or a hotel, which requires greater floor-to-floor space," Chatterton added, saying that while the height maximum may be rising by approximately 30 feet, the number of people going into the space will not increase by that much. "That's one of the reasons we're going with a form-based code."

In addition, the code provides for a setback distance once the building reaches 60 feet in height, before additional height may be added.

"The building will not be a 90-foot-tall box," Chatterton said. "Once it reaches 60 feet, the building will have to step back 12 feet before it's height can continue.

She said that requirement would help break the potential for a canyon effect in the heart of Collegetown.

"That way you get more creativity in architecture," Chatterton said, "and there will be less floor space, which also decreases density."

Count Tomlan among those who are opposed to raising the maximum height. While others have talked about growing up in places such as Philadelphia or New York City, and not having a problem with tall buildings lining the streets, she thinks the increased heights could detract from the character of the area.

"I don't believe it would be attractive to see taller buildings, even with a 12-foot setback at the 60-foot level," Tomlan said. "You would still ultimately see the top of the building from a distance, and I still think there is build out possible with a lower height. I would like to see that developed before we would see any need for a 90-foot height."

Back when the Collegetown Vision Implementation groups were meeting, Tomlan said she proposed a compromise of allowing taller buildings if they could provide an amenity or other service that would be a benefit for a larger group of people.

"Say someone wanted to build a hotel that would attract a greater number of people. For a function like that, a developer might be given an additional height from the 60-foot maximum," she said. "I want to see a benefit for an increased height, and I want to identify the benefits ahead of time."

The other concern she has with raising the height in the center of Collegetown is aesthetics. By raising the maximum in the heart of the district, Tomlan said, you would need to increase the heights in the transition zones to make it look more attractive.

"In order to transition to the neighborhoods, both in lower East Hill and Bryant Park, you would have to increase it (the maximum allowed height of homes)," she said. "If you are still keeping those buildings at 35 feet, how do you mediate between 90 feet and 35 feet?

"As it is now, we're stepping down from 60 to 35 feet," Tomlan added.

The bottom line is that she thinks other arrangements can be made in terms of height maximums there - whether it be reviewing projects on a case-by-case basis or agreeing on a lower maximum.

"At the Planning Committee meeting two weeks ago, there was very limited support for the 90-foot height," Tomlan said. "There were persons there that said they felt they could go one way or the other, but would prefer 60 (feet) or looking at 72 feet.

"I don't think there is whole-hearted support for it," she added. "Downtown's zone is now 120 feet, but I don't think Collegetown needs to be higher. I don't think we need to have taller buildings."

More information, including updated documents, may be found on the City of Ithaca's Web site under the News section at

Ex-Ithacan Feb 8, 2009 12:31 AM

I wish the Town of Ithaca and the City of Ithaca would consolidate and get on with life.

Town of Ithaca looks to accommodate growth
By Krisy Gashler • • February 7, 2009

ITHACA - Newcomers may not know the difference between the City of Ithaca and the Town of Ithaca, but its planners do - and so do developers.

In the last few years the town, which completely surrounds the city, has grown three times faster than the city, Town Supervisor Herb Engman said. The city has roughly 30,000 people, but the town now has about 20,000, he said.

"We're just growing so fast, we have to do something or we're just going to be one big suburbia in the next 30-40 years," Engman said.

This boom in development is among the reasons the town is undertaking a years-long process to revise its comprehensive plan. Among other things, the plan helps determine which areas will be protected for conservation and which will be encouraged for development.

The town's comprehensive plan was last updated in 1993, but housing needs and ideas about planning have changed significantly in that time, Town Board member Pat Leary said. She was on the board in 1993, too, she said.

"(The) '93 (plan) really saw the city as the center of economic activity in the county, and we're getting away from that a little bit now," Leary said. "Back in 1993, if you wanted to put any commercial development outside the city, it was automatically considered sprawl. But now nodal development is a little bit different because it's more like building a pretty much self-contained neighborhood, like a planned community, doing it with some thought."

Nodal development is meant to work the way development always worked before the car-driven suburban sprawl of the 1950s onward, Engman said. Homes are clustered together in close walking distance to basic necessities, such as a small grocery store or a bank, "so people don't have to run across town to do every little thing," he said.

For the 1993 plan, the town gathered input by sending out a mail survey to everyone in the town and basing the plan on the responses they got back, said Diane Conneman, chair of the town's Conservation Board and a member of the comprehensive plan committee.

But based on input from social science researchers, the town decided they would get a broader, more representative look at town opinion by carrying out a random phone survey, Conneman said. The town hired Cornell's Survey Research Institute to carry it out. They made roughly 35,000 calls in order to reach 359 randomly selected households, she said. The researchers asked about citizens' relative priorities related to things such as housing, open space, transportation, taxes and services the town does and does not provide, Leary and Conneman said.

The survey cost $10,000 and came from a fund established for the comprehensive plan, Planning Director Jon Kanter said. It's completed, but results have not yet been analyzed, Conneman said.

In addition to the survey, the town is planning to hold a dozen focus groups with various constituencies, Kanter said. The first, and ostensibly most important one, is with people representing a variety of town neighborhoods, he said. It's scheduled for Feb. 26.

Kanter said he hopes the meeting will help people get involved in the comprehensive plan and potentially create or strengthen neighborhood groups.

"You know, I think a lot of neighborhoods oftentimes don't organize because there isn't any particular development to react against or they may not have a particular issue," he said.

Engman added that neighborhoods sometimes don't know that they do have an issue until it's almost too late.

"One of the things the Town Board had heard is that people in neighborhoods don't have enough early warning about stuff happening in their neighborhoods until it got to the stage where it almost looked like it was a done deal," he said. "So our strategy is, 'O.K., let's set up these neighborhood groups, or if the neighborhood groups are set up, get the word to them, so as soon as we know, they know.'"

Kanter said he expects the plan to be completed by the end of 2010.

Ex-Ithacan Feb 13, 2009 12:16 PM

And the Collegetown saga continues (from The Cornell Daily Sun)

Collegetown Neighborhood Council Details Building Plans
Print: Email: Share: February 13, 2009 - 12:00am
By Ayala Falk

It has been almost a year since consultants visited Collegetown to develop a vision for renewal and nearly six months since an entire book was compiled to lay out the plans that will bring make that vision a reality. Last night, the Collegetown Neighborhood Council devoted its bimonthly meeting to update the status of the Collegetown development plan.

The meeting had approximately 30 attendees. According to Mary Tomlan ’71 (D-3rd Ward), co-chair of the CNC, the meeting had a much larger turnout than usual, attesting to the interest on the development plan.

Tomlan introduced the meeting; she described the “wish to make Collegetown more lively, more diverse and more beautiful” and explained the complexity of the zoning plans. The proposed zoning includes requiring pitched roofs and side porches. Other proposed legislation includes reducing building heights from 40 ft to 35 ft, limiting the number of stories in a building from four to three and reducing the maximum percentage of lot coverage from 35 percent to 30 percent.

Leslie Chatterton, head of historic preservation and neighborhood planner, detailed the plan. She explained that a more diverse and a less cyclical population needed to be encouraged in order to attract more retailers. The plan is intended to significantly increase the density of central Collegetown while maintaining and restoring the residential feel of the outer Collegetown areas. It is also meant to improve the aesthetics of the area through the gradual lowering of buildings heights as one moves from central Collegetown towards the outer areas.

The building plan divides Collegetown into six areas. The center of Collegetown, which extends down to Catherine Street, is given the most attention. Building heights will be increased to 90 ft and there will now be a seven-story limit. It will also be mandatory that the ground floors of these buildings be used for retail, and it will be encouraged to make this central property and its rent the most expensive.

The second area in Collegetown discussed is called the Village Residential area. According to the plan, this area is supposed to adjoin townhouse styled homes with a four-story limit. Chatterton explained that this area is intended to attract graduate students, younger couples and new Cornell faculty, rather than undergraduate students.

The rest of Collegetown will be less dense and is meant to have a residential feel. Building heights will be limited to two-and-a-half stories and the structures of the houses are supposed to remain the same. However, Leslie Chatterton, historic preservation and neighborhood planner, also mentioned that many of these homes are rundown and need to be redeveloped for health and safety reasons.

Jennifer Dotson, a member of the neighborhood council and chair of the common council's planning committee, spoke about the plan for the new transportation moratorium, which includes parking, busses and regular car traffic. The transportation subcommittee has not yet met, so few details are available.

Some developers at the meeting were unhappy with the plans. John Yengo, commercial manager of the Ithaca Renting Company, said that although he “support[s] growth and planning” he is frustrated by the length of time that the building rules are in limbo. Planning for the future: Representatives gathered in the basement of St. Luke's Church yesterday to discuss renovations in Collegetown and plans for the building moratorium set to end in April.
Sharon Marx, Property Manager of Ithaca Renting Company, agreed.

“It is very frustrating because developers can’t develop. The city has had a year and a half to do this and they still have not made their rules. In the meantime everyone’s hands are tied,” Marx said.

Yango explained that nobody wants to buy property because they are still waiting to see what the new rules will be.

Tessa Rudan ’89, a former Collegetown business owner who has lived in the area since 1967 said she did not trust the research of the hired consultants.

“It seems like they extrapolated a lot of data from all over the place and just applied it to Collegetown," Rudan said.

Tomlin, however, seemed more optimistic.

“It has been a lot of work and I am hopeful that we will make Collegetown better than ever,” Tomlin said.

Ex-Ithacan Feb 17, 2009 3:28 PM

Sad News about a great (spooky) old building. From the Cornell Daily Sun newspaper :( :

Hydraulic Lab Collapses

Reason behind building’s fall not yet known
February 17, 2009 - 12:00am
By Ben Eisen
Into the gorges: The Hydraulic Lab stands next to the Fall Creek Gorge on Jan. 27.
Into the gorges: The remnants of the Hydraulic Lab as they appeared on Saturday.

The picturesque views of Beebe Lake from the Thurston Avenue Bridge will now feature one eye-catching disruption. Cor­nell’s Hydraulic Lab — a decaying stone building that projected out from Fall Creek Gorge next to the Triphammer Footbridge and across from the Alumni House — is no longer standing.

The abandoned five-story tower, often considered an icon of Cornell’s scenic campus, collapsed at the end of last week, ending any speculation as to how long the structurally precarious building would last.

The remains of the 70-foot tall building lay in the gorge on Saturday morning, according to Giffen Ott ’13, a first year architecture student who noticed on Friday afternoon that the lab had collapsed.

The top chunk of the building, which sits at sidewalk level, remained for the most part intact, except for the corner that hangs over the gorge. The foundation also appears to still be in place, but the walls connecting the top and bottom have largely fallen out. The lab, when still standing, has long appeared structurally unsound to passersby.

“I kind of expected it to happen as some point,” Ott said. “I’m not very surprised. It seemed like an unstable building.”

As of last night, Simeon Moss, director of Cornell Press Relations, said he had not heard about the collapse of the building, and could not provide any details of the incident. Cornell University Police and the Ithaca Police Department also both said they were unaware of the incident. The process of how the building’s debris will be cleaned up — if at all — is currently unknown.

The Hydraulic Lab was constructed in October of 1898 alongside the dam that encloses Beebe Lake, according to an archived New York Times article. Originally part of the College of Civil Engineering, the purpose of the building was to study water purification along with the flow of water from the adjacent falls.

It has been debated whether the building was constructed in 12th-century Florentine style, but most agree that the stone used to build it was meant to match the stone of the gorge.

In A History of Cornell, author Morris Bishop writes that the building, “adds to the picturesqueness of the cascades, especially when giant unexpected streams burst forth from unexpected orifices.”

Since the 1960s, the building has been unused, according to an article in Cornell Magazine by Emeritus University Archivist Gould Colman ’51. The New York Times reported that damages from a flood caused the lab to close.


Here's a pic of the building I took in June 2008:

Ex-Ithacan Feb 18, 2009 11:49 PM

Here's a short article on the airport in Ithaca:

Ithaca Tompkins Regional Airport announces new Web site
New features include live, online booking agent
February 18, 2009

ITHACA — The Ithaca Tompkins Regional Airport announced this week the launch of a newly designed Web site for

Ithaca-based Ancient Wisdom Productions worked with Courtney Consulting to design and build the new site, which boasts enhanced features and easier navigation as well as a unique live, online booking system.

The airport contracted with to manage the booking aspect of the new Web site.

As an added incentive to book online, the airport also announced an online contest that offers a chance to win two free airline tickets, in the form of two $500 travel vouchers, to anyone who registers with by March 17 (one winner chosen and you may only enter/register once per person).

Last year, over 180,000 passengers flew from Ithaca Tompkins Regional Airport. Each year, ITH generates over $30 million for the local economy and nearly $456,000 in sales tax revenue. As a major international and national gateway to Cornell, Ithaca College, TC3 and other major employers, Ithaca Tompkins Regional Airport has three airlines (Delta/Northwest, Continental and US Airways), a fixed based operator (Taughannock Aviation Corporation), reliable ground transportation and a deep commitment to providing exemplary customer service.

For more information, please contact Bob Nicholas at the Ithaca Tompkins Regional Airport, at 257-0456.

Ex-Ithacan Feb 19, 2009 12:12 PM

More height concerns in Collegetown.

Ithaca Residents Voice Concern Over Collegetown Urban Plan
February 19, 2009 - 12:00am
By Brendan Doyle

Ithaca residents sounded off on a proposed urban plan for Collegetown at a meeting yesterday of Ithaca Common Council’s Planning and Economic Development Committee, showing growing tensions between Collegetown’s permanent residents and the ever-changing flow of student residents.

The plan, formally called the Collegetown Urban Plan and Design Guidelines, is a sweeping initiative that many citizens criticize as a “notion in search of a plan.”

“What I don’t like is that all the pieces, and the answers to all those questions associated with those pieces, are not worked out,” said Martha Fromett, a Collegetown resident of 22 years. “I don’t want to adopt something that is a notion.”

The Collegetown initiative, which Common Council residents said was carefully constructed and thought out, attempts to “encourage new development ... improve management of parking ... [and] protect the quality of life in the mostly owner-occupied neighborhoods east of Collegetown.” Though certain aspects of the plan were lauded by Collegetown representatives, especially those seeking to increase the city’s conduciveness to pedestrians, many of the facets of the plan seek to urbanize a town that has already grown increasingly dense as the University has developed.

One of the main concerns of residents was a passage raising the maximum building height in the core areas to 90 feet, an increase of 30 feet from the current core area maximum Collegetown building height. A Collegetown resident of 32 years, Frances Weissman, said to the council that the 60-foot height limit had already “obliterated Collegetown’s charm,” and said a 90-foot limit would be shameful. The taller building heights would encourage increased development of apartments.
Though many upperclassmen may appreciate the potentially expanded living opportunities off campus, permanent Collegetown residents balk at the prospect.

“There’s been a change from Collegetown being a mixed residential neighborhood. It was much more diverse than it was now,” said Ed Weissman, husband of Frances. By “diversity” Weissman said he was referring to the healthy mix of students, faculty and Tompkins County workers in his neighborhood when he first moved to Ithaca in 1977. Ever since then, Weissman said the quality of living has decreased as the neighborhoods surrounding campus become more and more exclusively student-occupied.

“I think the community was a much more viable neighborhood,” Weissman added. “Once the bigger apartment buildings went up, that changed the nature of the neighborhood.”

Weissman, who works in the University libraries, also noted that many of his neighbors moved out as students moved in and referred to the current state of his Collegetown neighborhood as a “student ghetto.”

According to Weissman, zoning changes in the 1980s, including the increase of building height limits, encouraged greater population density in Collegetown as more and more students relied on off-campus housing.

The Collegetown Urban Plan and Design initiative would almost certainly increase the student population in Collegetown. Valuable green space between houses would be minimized as development increases, a topic that particularly consternated Fromett.

“I’m also concerned with the loss of green space for students,” Fromett said, noting an incident where several students were found relaxing in a friend’s backyard because they just wanted somewhere to sit. “Students have nowhere to go.”

Another issue, important to almost all permanent residents of Collegetown, was the increasing noise level as more and more students move off campus. Due to the close proximity of the houses, Fromett said she is able to hear her neighbor shut a door in the middle of the night. The housing proximity also exacerbates the notoriously cacophonous parties in Collegetown, which Fromett said could get out of control at times.

“To Cornell’s credit, they’ve worked hard on having a larger police presence,” Fromett said.

There will be a joint meeting of a subcommittee of the Planning and Economic Development Committee and the City’s Planning Board today to develop answers to the problems plaguing the current development plan. Voting on the environmental impact of the plan was put off until the committee’s March meeting.

Ex-Ithacan Feb 20, 2009 4:23 PM

Another hudle for the developer of a downtown hotel to overcome:

Hotel plan in need of city approval for air space
By Krisy Gashler • • February 20, 2009

The Commons hotel project may require another Common Council vote allowing the developers to use a piece of public property - but this time it's a strip of air.

Last April, Council voted to sell a 2,140-square-foot piece of land along the edge of the sidewalk on Aurora Street to Long Island developer Jeffrey Rimland to facilitate his development of a new luxury hotel.

His current design would require a piece of the hotel to hang nine feet over the top of the Green Street Garage, developer Steve Flash told Council's planning committee Wednesday night. Flash, who said he is not in the development group proposing the Commons hotel, spoke on behalf of Rimland, who was unable to attend.

Ownership of that particular piece of air is especially complicated because it's above the portion of the garage that is above a portion of the Rothschild's building. And the land under the Rothschild's building is already owned by Rimland, City Attorney Dan Hoffman said.

"The question is who owns the air rights above there," Hoffman said.

Hoffman told the committee his office could pursue a variety of strategies, based on their guidance, including simply negotiating an ownership boundary line or carefully determining exactly how ownership should be established and where.

Alderman Joel Zumoff, D-3rd, said he didn't want to "waste time on bickering over airspace no one else would use."

"My suggestion would be to make this process as rapid as we can and as simple as we can," Zumoff said.

Alderman Dan Cogan, D-5th, said he also preferred expediting the process to facilitate the new hotel.

(2 of 2)

Rimland has offered to give the city all the air rights outside of their proposed nine-foot overhang. Cogan said that arrangement would be "better than what I thought we (the city) had."

Alderpersons Jennifer Dotson, I-1st, and Eric Rosario, I-2nd, said they wanted more information before deciding how they would feel about allowing the overhang and potentially giving up or selling public airspace.

Flash asked the Council to provide Rimland guidance on whether they would allow the design, so the developer doesn't spend time and money on designs that won't be approved.

Cogan said he understands why a developer "especially this developer" would want some explicit indication about the Council's views.

Flash is the developer who proposed the Inlet Island hotel that was unexpectedly voted down by Common Council in August 2007.

Rimland spent roughly two years before a variety of city boards in order to buy the 2,140-square-foot patch of property.

The hotel project, named "Hotel Ithaca," would reach 10 stories and 100 feet, the maximum allowed by zoning, Hoffman said. Initial sketch plans of the project are scheduled to come before the Ithaca planning board next Tuesday. The hotel would sit at the eastern end of The Commons in the triangular spot of land surrounded by the Rothschild's building, Aurora Street and Green Street. The land is currently a surface parking lot.

Common Council plans to discuss the issue at their March meeting.

Ex-Ithacan Feb 21, 2009 12:08 AM

Here's an article in the Syracuse paper about Ithaca's ECOVillage (there's a couple of funny comments at the end)

Ex-Ithacan Feb 24, 2009 8:06 PM

A brief TV news spot about the downtown Annual Ithaca Chili Fest:


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