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  #1161  
Old Posted Dec 4, 2009, 11:43 AM
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I know it's only 6 stories, but in Ithaca that would be noticeable. From the Ithaca Journal:


Ithaca council OKs rezoning for Women's Community Building site
INHS plans apartments, meeting space
By Liz Lawyer •elawyer@gannett.com • December 3, 2009, 6:40 pm

The Ithaca Common Council voted late Wednesday to approve a zoning change that will allow the redevelopment of the site of the Women's Community Building downtown.

An affordable housing apartment complex is proposed for the site, at the northwest corner of Seneca and Cayuga streets. Council voted unanimously to approve the new zoning, which will allow up to six stories and requires no off-street parking -- the same as the zoning on the other three corners of the intersection, with the historic Clinton House, Masonic Temple and DeWitt Mall.

Council also voted to approve the consultant for the city comprehensive plan, 9-1, with Joel Zumoff voting against. Zumoff said he was not opposed to the consultant, but to pursuing the project now with a tight budget year coming up.

A proposal to increase fines for certain parking violations was approved 6-4. The new fines take effect Jan. 1. The parking changes also end the practice of waiving the first overtime meter, zone or overnight odd-even ticket a person receives, despite some council members' objections that the waiver is a courtesy to visitors and drivers confused by parking laws affected by snow removal.

The council unanimously approved an eight-month suspension of the city's apprenticeship policy and referred it to a working group to revise it. Controller Steve Thayer asked the council in October to suspend or revoke the policy, saying it has cost the city too much money and staff time.

Common Council approved a policy in 2005 that required all contractors bidding on city construction projects more than $500,000 to participate in state-certified apprenticeship programs for all construction trades. However, according to the resolution Wednesday, implementation has led to confusion and difficulties in interpreting and applying the policy to actual bid situations.

Council also accepted a revised posthumous honors protocol to guide city officials when public servants or other revered citizens die.

The policy was reworked because a veteran pointed out that members of the U.S. armed services, firefighters, police officers, and emergency medical technicians killed in the line of duty were not eligible under the policy to have the flag flown at half-staff. The board approved the revised protocol unanimously.
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  #1162  
Old Posted Dec 4, 2009, 4:03 PM
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This is so Ithaca. This Monastery is the North American headquarters for the Dalai Lama.

Little blurb from the Ithaca Journal:

Namgyal Monstery hosts social tea today
December 4, 2009, 6:50 am

There will be a free meditation instruction and social tea tonight at Namgyal Monastery, 412 N. Aurora St.

The meditation instruction will begin at 4:30 p.m., followed by regular mediation from 5:15-6:00 p.m. and Social Tea from 6-6:45 p.m.

This event is free, but donations are welcome


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  #1163  
Old Posted Dec 8, 2009, 1:04 PM
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This article from the Lansing Star (on-line) sounds a bit more upbeat than the Cornell Daily Sun's:


Fifteen New or Expanded Ithaca Businesses
by -Staff
Friday, 04 December 2009
(Ithaca, NY) The year 2009 will be remembered by the public as an economic rollercoaster, but in downtown Ithaca, it will be known as the Year of the Expanding Business.

Thirteen of the fifteen downtown businesses that opened or expanded in 2009 are locally or regionally owned. They include Wildfire Restaurant and Lounge, Simeon’s on the Commons, Palmer Pharmacy, Unique World, The Edge, The Shop, Finger Lakes Running and Triathlon Company, Gimme! Coffee, Sweet Melissa’s, Cinemapolis, Ithacards, Angry Mom Record and Birdie Smokin’ Gift Shop. The two national businesses include Urban Outfitters, and Cell Phone City.

The most recent expansions and openings include Simeon’s on the Commons, Wildfire Restaurant and Lounge, Palmer Pharmacy and Unique World.

Beyond the economic impact that a healthy, thriving business has on the local tax base, there is also an economic impact from building renovation and property purchases. Simeon’s on the Commons owners Rich Avery and Dean Zervos invested $200,000 in renovations when they chose to expand their 224 The Commons location, and that does not include the cost of acquiring the adjacent storefront they expanded into. Wildfire Restaurant and Lounge owners Teresa and Scott Miller purchased their building at 106 S. Cayuga Street, and then renovated it before opening Wildfire Restaurant and Lounge. The Millers also own Madeline’s Restaurant at 215 The Commons.

Palmer Pharmacy in Cayuga Place on Green Street is the third store for Trumansburg resident and pharmacist Darren Palmer. Along with filling a critical need in downtown Ithaca, Palmer Pharmacy will go a step further, at additional expense, and include an old-fashioned ice cream parlor in the store, which is expected to open in the next few weeks. Palmer Pharmacy’s other locations are in Trumansburg and Ovid.

Ithaca-based Gimme! Coffee also expanded into downtown this year, when it opened in the T-CAT Transit Center next to Palmer Pharmacy in Cayuga Place.

Unique World expanded twice in 2009. Unique World has now expanded into Center Ithaca at 171 The Commons. It first opened in the basement of 103 The Commons in 2003. Earlier this year, it expanded into a street-level storefront at that location, and in November, moved to Center Ithaca, and a space that is larger than the combined two other spaces it occupied at 103 The Commons.

When Ithacards opened at 144 The Commons, it became the third downtown Ithaca business for owners Emma Lou and Abdul Razak Sheik, who also own House of Shalimar and T-Shirt Express. In addition, it was the Sheiks who originally opened Evolution, which is also on the Commons. They later sold Evolution to one of their employees. That employee has since opened a second store, Avanti!, which is also located on the Commons. All five businesses remain open today.

Cinemapolis moved from downtown Ithaca’s Home Dairy Alley to a commercial space along the Green Street Garage walkway, expanding from two screens to five. The new movie house offers stadium seating and a comfortable lobby and concession area.

The Shop, at 312 E. Seneca Street is a new downtown Ithaca business, serving great coffee, tea and snacks. It also features live music every night and monthly art shows.

The Finger Lakes Running and Triathlon Company almost doubled its size, when it moved from West State Street in downtown Ithaca, to 215 The Commons. This has added new lines to accommodate all phases of triathlons- swimming, biking, and running.

Angry Mom Records at 115 The Commons is a new business that opened this year. Angry Mom owner George Johann expanded less than 4 months later, by consigning the stock and inventory of both Small World Records and Tapes, and Volume Records, into his business.

Two out-of-town clothing chains expanded into downtown Ithaca in 2009. National retailer Urban Outfitters opened its first upstate NY store outside of Buffalo, on the ground floor of Cayuga Place. Urban Outfitters chose downtown Ithaca over the Pyramid Mall and Route 13. Ithaca also won out over Rochester, Saratoga, and New Hartford, when Syracuse-based The Edge, chose to open a second store in upstate New York. The Edge is located at 107 S. Cayuga Street and is a trendy, contemporary discount apparel boutique for both men and women.

SewGreen, a non-profit community program encouraging sustainability in fabric, fiber and fashion opened a reuse store in the DeWitt Mall, at 215 N. Cayuga Street.

Such growth in a period of economic recovery bodes well for the future of downtown, notes Downtown Ithaca Alliance Executive Director Gary Ferguson. Ferguson contends that “a real barometer of the retail viability of an area is to see if there are expanding businesses. When businesses expand they demonstrate to others that this is a place where commerce works.”




Read more: http://www.lansingstar.com/content/v...#ixzz0Z6Szei2R
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  #1164  
Old Posted Dec 8, 2009, 11:48 PM
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Looks like college towns are the champs (from the Ithaca Journal):



Ithaca area tops Peace Corps list
December 8, 2009, 1:05 pm

Ithaca and Tompkins County led the nation in the per capita volunteers to the Peace Corps in 2009 followed by Corvallis, Ore. and Boulder, Colo.


More than 15,000 Americans applied to the Peace Corps this year -- an increase of 18 percent from last year, according to the Peace Corps.

Below is a summary of the top 10 metropolitan areas in per capita volunteers to the agency. The Ithaca Metropolitan Area includes all of Tompkins County.

1. Ithaca (12.85 volunteers per 100,000 residents)

2. Corvallis, Ore. (11.0)

3. Boulder, Colo. (9.89)

4. Longview, Wash. (9.88)

5. Charlottesville, Va. (9.77)

6. Cheyenne, Wyo. (9.14)

7. Burlington-South Burlington, Vt. (9.11)

8. Olympia, Wash. (8.57)

9. Columbia, Mo. (8.52)

10. Portland-South Portland-Biddeford, Maine (7.78)

Source: Peace Corps
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  #1165  
Old Posted Dec 16, 2009, 12:20 AM
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I feel like I have to share a vid of a hale fellow from Ithaca (Tiny Town in his jargon) who does reports on different aspects of life in the land of unreality. He covers crime (as in this report), "looking for love connections", and various other topics. Anyway, I find him very informative and hope you do too:

Video Link


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  #1166  
Old Posted Dec 16, 2009, 10:47 PM
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Looks like Ithacans are unhappy with traffic. I wish they could spend a 1/2 hour going 2 blocks in downtown DC at rush hour. Maybe this development wouldn't seem like such a burden. (From the Ithaca Journal)




West Hill wary of 106-unit housing proposal
Main complaint at hearing is increased traffic
By Krisy Gashler •kgashler@gannett.com • December 15, 2009, 10:46 pm


About 15 to 20 residents expressed concern ranging from potential traffic problems to public safety Tuesday night in a public hearing on a proposed 106-unit West Hill development.

Ithaca's Town Planning Board hosted the hearing to gather comments on the draft environmental impact statement prepared in conjunction with the Holochuck Homes subdivision, a proposed townhouse development on Route 96 south of Cayuga Medical Center tucked behind the Museum of the Earth and the Finger Lakes School of Massage.

Developers Mark and Matty Holochuck propose 20 multi-family buildings, with two to six units per building. The development would be clustered on the western side of the Holochuck's 109-acre property, along Route 96, with 65 acres slated for donation to New York State. A portion of the Black Diamond Trail runs on a piece of the land planned for donation.

Over the past year, a group of West Hill residents has urged town officials to enact a moratorium on development on West Hill and conduct more study of traffic and other issues.

The environmental impact statement prepared by Holochuck's consultants concluded that, even after their subdivision is completed, the maximum time someone living on Route 96 would have to wait to turn out of their driveway is less than a minute.

The study was based on traffic counts conducted one Tuesday in April and shouldn't be considered comprehensive, Iradell Road resident Ken Walkup said.

"It's not a study, it's a snapshot," he said.

Kathleen Friedrich lives on Route 96 across from the Bundy Road intersection. Because there's no left turn lane for Bundy, drivers -- including those in trucks and TCAT buses -- pass on the right, sometimes swerving into her driveway and yard so they don't have to slow down, she said.

Friedrich said she's tired of seeing accidents in her front yard and repeatedly having to replace or repair her mailbox after drivers hit it.

"How many people will have to be injured or killed before something is done?" she said.

Warren Allmon, director of the Paleontological Research Institution and its Museum of the Earth, spoke to urge the town and the developer to connect the development's proposed northern exit to the hospital and its existing traffic light.

The Holochucks are willing to connect the road, but Cayuga Medical Center has refused to consider it. A July 2009 letter from hospital vice president Louis LoVecchio to the developers' attorney contends that their roadway is already "fairly busy" and "the burden of adding to our traffic volumes with non-hospital related traffic is not desirable to us."

Many residents and Planning Board members expressed frustration with the hospital's unwillingness to connect their road to the Holochuck development. As currently proposed, a southern entrance to the subdivision would come in just north of the intersection of Bundy Road and Route 96. The northern entrance would come in at one of the existing driveways into the Finger Lakes School of Massage.

Allmon and several residents urged the town to conduct an independent assessment of traffic on West Hill as a whole, based on maximum build-out allowed by zoning, and taking especially into consideration the variety of current development proposals on West Hill.

"I hear the same thing from all the various little jurisdictions here, 'well, that planning process is proceeding independently of this one,'" he said. Someone ought to bring all those planning processes together, he said.

Tompkins County, the City of Ithaca, Town of Ithaca, and Town of Ulysses attempted to do just that with their joint Route 96 corridor management study, which studied traffic and other issues from the city to Trumansburg. That study concluded that there was sufficient traffic capacity for additional development, and recommended that high-density development be encouraged in a clustered "node" near the hospital.

West Hill residents have disputed the study, saying it doesn't accurately reflect their experience with traffic delays.

The Town Board voted last month to set aside up to $30,000 for an independent study of traffic on West Hill, but no scope has been established for such a study yet, town Planning Director Jonathan Kanter said Tuesday.

Written comments on the Holochuck Homes environmental impact statement are being accepted by the town through Jan., 5. They can be addressed to Kanter at Town Hall, 215 N. Tioga St. The impact statement is available in town hall, at the Tompkins County Public Library, and on the town Web site: www.town.ithaca.ny.us.
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  #1167  
Old Posted Dec 18, 2009, 6:51 PM
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Good news for the Ithaca metro, and not as bad for the state as a whole as for most of the nation.
From the Ithaca Journal:



Tompkins has N.Y.'s lowest jobless rate in Nov.
From staff and wire reports • December 17, 2009, 6:15 pm


Tompkins County had the lowest unemployment in New York during November posting a 5.3 percent jobless rate for the month.

For all of New York the unemployment rate dropped to 8.6 percent in November from 9 percent in October. The rate has generally ticked upward since the state went into recession in August 2008 and topped out around 9 percent starting in late summer. Labor officials say the new numbers reflect improvement, but the data don't yet show a trend to recovery.

For the Ithaca area, November's unemployment rate was down from 5.5 percent in October, but ahead of November 2008 when the rate was 4.3.

The latest figures released Thursday showed the number of unemployed New Yorkers dropped from 871,000 to about 834,000 over the month. In Tompkins County, an estimated 3,000 people were unemployed for the month.

In Tioga County November's unemployment rate was 8.4 percent, up from 8.0 percent in October and 5.9 percent in November 2008. In Cortland County, November's unemployment rate was 8.5 percent, up from 6.4 percent in October and 7.2 percent in November 2008.

The jobless rate in New York City improved to 10 percent from 10.3 percent a month earlier. That matched the 10 percent national unemployment rate.

Fulton County in the southern Adirondacks had the highest jobless rate at 9.5 percent.
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  #1168  
Old Posted Dec 22, 2009, 10:35 PM
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I hope this is a sign that more national retailers will give downtown Ithaca a try. From the Ithaca Journal.



Urban Outfitters Store Manager Derrick Fischer stands outside the newly opened store in the Cayuga Green Development, which was designed to blend in with its surroundings, while still maintaining the brand's look. (AARON MUNZER/Contributed Photo


Urban Outfitters looking to fit in, yet stand out
By Aaron Munzer •Correspondent • December 21, 2009, 7:05 am

Urban Outfitters may be a chain of clothing stores, but unlike other chains, the company tailored its newest location at 131 Green St. in the new Cayuga Green development to fit the Ithaca community.

"Every project we develop, we truly start our process from a very specific, local trajectory," said Mike Resneck, a junior development manager with the company. "We never do the same store twice - we tailor it to the town, the people, and the architecture. We want to make a statement that is a part of our brand, but a local reference as well."

Resneck said the store knew the area was a good fit from the start - lots of college students, a thriving downtown area nearby, and it just happened to be right next to an iconic part of Ithaca - the gorges.

The architectural firm that designs the company's stores, Pompei A.D., used the local gorges as a motif for the building's façade, creating white, jutting tiles of various sizes to represent the area and neighboring Six Mile Creek and set the store apart from the rest of the building.

"We wanted to recall stone from local gorges, and pay homage to the surroundings," Resneck said.

And on a snowy day last week, the store seemed to fit right in as it bustled with young 20-somethings on shopping sprees, unbothered by the typical Ithaca weather.

"I think trying to keep our specific brand is something that we take to heart, but customers also identify that we're doing something new and different," Resneck said. "We're trying to connect the culture that we're plugging into."
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  #1169  
Old Posted Dec 23, 2009, 5:20 PM
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I know 75' doesn't seem like much on a skyscraper site, but for Ithaca it's enough to make an impact, especially in my old hood.

From the Ithaca Journal:



Collegetown incentive zone still in the works
December 22, 2009, 8:25 pm

Collegetown incentive zone still in the works

The City of Ithaca is still investigating how to create a zoning district in the heart of Collegetown that would allow developers to build up to 75-foot buildings.

That proposal was part of the Collegetown Urban Plan endorsed by Common Council earlier this year. In exchange for providing community benefits, such building a hotel or office space instead of student housing, a developer could go above the 60-foot limit currently imposed in the center of Collegetown, around the intersection of College Avenue and Dryden Road.

New York state law allows communities to develop incentive zones, in a process quite similar to the way communities are allowed to grant property tax abatements, according to research by City Planner Megan Gilbert.

A Collegetown plan subcommittee is still looking into issues such as whether the city could allow incentives besides increased height, such as waiving parking requirements.
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  #1170  
Old Posted Dec 23, 2009, 5:25 PM
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Uh-oh, I was afraid this might happen. Another project for the Collegetown hood may not happen.

From the Ithaca Journal:



City zoning change could end plan for East State Street group of apartments
Collegetown Terrace would add more than 600 beds
By Krisy Gashler •kgashler@gannett.com • December 22, 2009, 8:25 pm

The City of Ithaca is considering a zoning change that could scuttle plans for the massive Collegetown Terrace Apartments project on East State Street.

Common Council's planning committee is studying a proposal to implement a new R-3aa zoning district in as-yet-unspecified areas across the city. The more restrictive zoning district is intended to preserve the character of existing city neighborhoods and to act as a buffer between higher density multi-family housing and single-family residences, City Planning Director JoAnn Cornish said.

But the change could also act as a disincentive for new development, which is often safer -- for tenants and firefighters -- than the existing stock of older homes split into apartments, according to Ithaca Fire Marshal Tom Parsons.

The idea for such a zone initially came from the city's Planning Board after approval of an apartment complex at 320 Dryden Road that board members thought was too big, Cornish said. A similar zoning proposal in that area of Collegetown was defeated earlier this year because of legal opposition by affected property owners.

Related
Collegetown Terrace apts zoning application

The current idea to consider zoning changes across the city came in reaction to Ithaca developer John Novarr's proposal to build the Collegetown Terrace Apartments, Cornish said.

Novarr has proposed to tear down 19 buildings in a 16.4-acre area bounded by Quarry Street, East State Street, Valentine Place and Six Mile Creek, and replace them with seven new apartment buildings. The historically designated Quarry Arms, Casa Roma and Boiler Works Apartments buildings would remain.

The full site, including the three historic buildings, would contain 1,260 bedrooms and 860 parking spots. The area currently contains 635 bedrooms and 430 spots.

Novarr was able to create his development plan by purchasing and consolidating many adjoining properties. The R-3aa zoning proposal would place limits on the maximum size of all new buildings, based on the average square footage of existing buildings on the same and facing blocks, according to a memo to the planning committee from Cornish.

An environmental impact statement on Collegetown Terrace Apartments is being written. The planning board has not yet granted any approvals for the project.

Novarr declined to comment on the city's zoning proposal. He has recently been attending meetings of the Planning Board and Common Council's planning committee with his consultants and attorney.

City Attorney Dan Hoffman said there's no simple answer to the question of whether the city would be at any legal risk if it re-zoned Novarr's land.

"Rezoning has been permitted by the courts up until a pretty late point in the game, typically prior to actual construction. But as to how close to actual construction is re-zoning allowed? There's been a whole range of decisions. It's not a hard-and-fast line," he said. "But it's certainly not prohibited."

Cornish said the city has not made any decisions about which areas could be included in the new zoning, but said Novarr's property is among the areas being considered.

"There has been discussion but not really a determination about whether the whole site would be (re-zoned), or just the piece that faces State Street. And the concept really is to preserve the fabric of the neighborhood, so presumably that would be just along the street. And what's behind it, what you can't see from the street, may not make a difference," she said.

In response to the proposal, Fire Department Deputy Chief Parsons sent letters to both the Planning Board and Common Council, raising his concerns.

"The quality and safety of the stock of multiple dwelling units in the City of Ithaca needs to be considered before passing any zoning regulations that would restrict or limit the redevelopment of these properties," Parsons wrote. "I understand the concerns that people in the community have with certain residential development proposals that have come before the Planning Board. I know that some people in the community feel that certain types of redevelopment are not appropriate, but the consequences of not providing a reasonable opportunity to redevelop will, in my opinion, perpetuate the existence of some very unsafe and poor quality housing."

Unsafe structural conditions in older homes are sometimes concealed by later work that converted individual homes into apartments, Parsons said. In other cases, the city is prevented from forcing landlords to fix unsafe conditions because a building was granted a variance decades before, he said.

A subcommittee has been meeting to discuss the criteria for the new R-3aa zone, and the next step is to walk all of the existing areas zoned R-3 to decide which ones should be included in the proposal, Cornish said.

Other criteria that the city would weigh in deciding where to re-zone include steep slopes and unique physical characteristics such as gorges -- both of which apply to Novarr's State Street property, Cornish confirmed.
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  #1171  
Old Posted Dec 30, 2009, 12:11 AM
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Here's a couple of articles regarding future development in Ithaca (I guess they couldn't fit it all in one )

From the Ithaca Journal:



The Commons is shown in this file photo. As in 2009, Ithaca Common Council will continue in 2010 to discuss redesigning the downtown pedestrial mall, a state grant is likely to help renovate certain buildings downtown, and plans continue for a new hotel on the Commons' eastern end. (File photo)


GIAC, Cayuga Green on Ithaca development agenda
By Krisy Gashler •kgashler@gannett.com • December 28, 2009, 7:50 pm

Some of the big developments Ithacans can look forward to in 2010 include the re-opening of the renovated Greater Ithaca Activities Center, completion of Phase 3 of the Cayuga Waterfront Trail, and construction of the last phase of the downtown Cayuga Green development.

Look for construction in these city areas:

* The $4.5 million GIAC renovation is expected to be completed by this summer, with a grand re-opening celebration scheduled for July, GIAC Director Marcia Fort said. The overhaul has included a new roof, plumbing work, asbestos removal, brick re-pointing, fire safety upgrades, and revamped programming space, she said.

* Construction financed through a $1.15 million state Restore NY grant is expected to help renovate two Commons buildings: the Plantations building is slated to become an Italian and Thai restaurant, and the Petrune building will have expanded business space for clothing manufacture. Both buildings will also hold upper-story housing after the renovations.

* The final phase of the Cayuga Green development should be under construction by spring, according to City Planning Director JoAnn Cornish. Initially planned as condominiums, the area between the Cayuga garage and Six Mile Creek is now expected to have developers build more apartments, she said.

* Construction is planned next year on the 25-unit Coal Yard apartments, Phase 2, at 143 Maple Avenue, where the existing units are home to many international students attending Cornell University.

* The Hangar Theatre also expects to complete renovations and re-open in July, according to its Web site. Construction there includes winterization to extend the production season, improved storm water management, and upgraded bathrooms, lobby area, and seating.

* Construction is set to begin next year on the Columbia Street pedestrian bridge over Six Mile Creek. The city was awarded $1.1 million through the federal stimulus bill to cover most of the cost. Phase 3 of the Cayuga Waterfront Trail, connecting the Ithaca Farmers' Market to Cass Park and the visitors' bureau, is also slated for construction next year.



This is an artist's rendering of the planned Hotel Ithaca, depicted at night as seen from the northeast corner of Aurora and State streets, with The Commons to the viewer's right. (Photo provided)


More projects planned for Ithaca in 2010
By Krisy Gashler •kgashler@gannett.com • December 28, 2009, 7:50 pm

While construction gets under way on some city projects, others are still in the planning stages that promise to bring more debate and study in 2010.

Look for more public discussion on:

* The Collegetown Terrace Apartments, and the proposal by some in the city to change zoning there to prevent or alter the project. The apartments as proposed would add 1,100 new rental units between East State Street and Six Mile Creek -- a more than 600-unit increase over existing conditions.

* Ithaca Neighborhood Housing Services plans to continue seeking approvals and financing for its proposal to build a six-story low-income apartment building downtown, replacing the Women's Community Building.

* The city's consultants are expected to provide detailed engineering and design plans for a Commons overhaul next year, though construction is not scheduled for 2010.

* Developer Jeffrey Rimland is still pursuing financing for his Commons Hotel Ithaca proposal, and waiting on a final vote from the Tompkins County Industrial Development Agency on sales and mortgage recording tax abatements, City Planning Director JoAnn Cornish said.
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  #1172  
Old Posted Jan 1, 2010, 2:35 AM
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Any renovations to the Commons is probably a long way off. One way to revitalize the downtown would be to attract some more retailers who would attract the students off East & South hills. Article from the Ithaca Journal:



Plans for a Commons re-design are headed back to Common Council's agenda next week. (File photo)


Ithaca Common Council discusses Commons redesign proposal
Seating, pavilions, maintenance at issue
By Krisy Gashler •kgashler@gannett.com • December 29, 2009, 6:35 pm

The future of The Commons will be back for Ithaca Common Council's discussion next week.

At their December meeting, council members held off on accepting a committee recommendation on re-designing the downtown pedestrian mall.

Concerns ranging from cost and utility replacement, to the number of public versus privately controlled seats on The Commons, were raised by council members.

A city client committee has recommended re-designing The Commons to place amenities like benches and planters in an "eclectic" pattern across the State/Martin Luther King Street portion of The Commons.

In public presentations the city's consultants, Boston-based Sasaki Associates, said this design could include features such as diagonally strung lights to mimic gorges, and an open central walkway that could accommodate portable pavilions and seating for various events. On the Tioga Street Bank Alley section of The Commons, the client committee recommended a water play area and a large, permanent pavilion at the northern entrance near Seneca Street.

Ithaca's musician community was troubled by the potential loss of the four small pavilions, Alderman Dan Cogan, D-5th, said during a discussion at the council's planning committee earlier this month.

Under the current design, only one permanent pavilion would remain, and it would be located near the loudest intersection. On the other hand, Cogan noted that public feedback has repeatedly described the pavilions as "dark and gloomy" and encouraging to loiterers, so removing the pavilions could be a tradeoff.

Alderwoman Mary Tomlan, D-3rd, said she was concerned with having just one, "very impressive" pavilion as opposed to multiple small ones. A large pavilion is great for big concerts and events, but small groups signing petitions or holding bake sales "want something less dramatic," she said.

Committee Chairwoman Jennifer Dotson, I-1st, said she likes having multiple pavilions because they encourage "the kind of loitering we want to see, (such as) people eating their lunch out of the rain."

The committee's recommendation calls for movable chairs and pavilions that could be set up around The Commons in a variety of ways to accommodate those uses, said Joe Wetmore, Autumn Leaves bookstore owner and a member of the client committee.

The areas of The Commons with movable chairs are already the most popular, and movable chairs allow people to establish their own group dynamics rather than being limited to two people sitting next to each other on a bench, he said.

Alderman Eric Rosario, I-2nd, said he likes the idea of fostering community on the Commons, but he's worried about making a change that will require more human resources to maintain. Presumably city staff will have to move, set up, and store movable chairs and pavilions, he said.

"Frankly, I don't think we do a great job of maintaining The Commons as is, and now we're raising the complexity," he said.

Another concern is the amount of overall seating. There are 1,009 seats on The Commons, including benches, planter walls, 50 movable chairs and 56 private restaurant seats.

The recommended redesign would have 1,075 total seats, including 450 movable chairs, and a predicted 400 private restaurant seats.

Cogan said he thought the estimate of 400 private outdoor dining seats may be overly optimistic, but that if possible, it would create "an intense sense of vibrancy on The Commons and everyone would benefit from that."

Rosario said he didn't like that so much of the planned seating would require people to buy something in a restaurant.

Alderman Joel Zumoff, D-3rd, said he thought council members shouldn't focus too much on the number of seats, because the only time there's 1,000 people on The Commons is during big festivals, and at those events, people are typically standing.

Ultimately, City Planning Director JoAnn Cornish asked council members not to get too wrapped up in specific details at this point. The council is spending $250,000 for its design contract with Sasaki, a "world-class landscape architectural firm," she said.

"It would be a shame to be paying this amount of money and then dictate the creativity," Cornish said.

The council has not yet allocated any money toward construction, and it may be some time before it actually takes place, but with a plan in hand, "we won't be working at cross purposes" if repairs come up that necessitate construction, Cogan said.

Having a plan also gives the city greater opportunity to apply for grants, or potentially future stimulus funds, Mayor Carolyn Peterson said.

The committee voted unanimously to authorize Sasaki to move forward with preliminary designs. The issue comes back to Common Council at 7 p.m. Jan. 6 in City Hall, 108 E. Green St.
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I wish the heck this thing would get resolved. If I had the bucks and could retire, I might just buy one of the proposed townhomes. From the Ithaca Journal:



After months of inactivity, the cleanup of Ithaca Gun, shown here Dec.22, is slowly moving forward.



Ithaca Gun cleanup inches forward
By Krisy Gashler •kgashler@gannett.com • December 30, 2009, 6:30 pm

After months in limbo, the city's request to shift money to complete the cleanup at Ithaca Gun is slowly moving forward.

The board of Empire State Development Corp. -- the state agency responsible for disbursing the Restore NY grant that is subsidizing redevelopment of Ithaca Gun -- is scheduled to vote in late January on whether to allow the city to move $420,000 -- now slated to subsidize redevelopment -- into the fund to help subsidize site cleanup.

The move would pay to, among other things, remove contaminated piles that have been sitting on the Lake Street site for roughly five months.

The biggest recent shift is that the staff of Empire State Development now supports the city's application, said Nels Bohn, director of community development for the Ithaca Urban Renewal Agency.

That support has come after long negotiation, and after reaching a compromise to shift only half of the money originally earmarked for redevelopment: $420,000 versus the requested $840,000, Bohn said.

The city earned a $2.3 million Restore NY grant to underwrite redevelopment of the former East Hill gun factory into high-end condominiums. Of the total, $1.46 million was intended to help demolish the asbestos- and lead-laden building and clean up the site. Another $840,000 was meant to subsidize redevelopment.

Because of cost overruns in demolishing the factory and removing contaminated debris, developers stopped the project in August. Common Council quickly voted, 7-2, to ask the state to shift the remaining money over to the cleanup side.

The move was supported by most members of the citizen's Community Advisory Group, who felt the public-private partnership would be the fastest way to ensure cleanup and redevelopment of the site. Detractors, including advisory group members Walter Hang and Tompkins County Legislator Kathy Luz Herrera, argued the city should stop working with the development team and ask the state or federal government to complete a comprehensive cleanup. The Environmental Protection Agency undertook an almost $5 million cleanup several years ago, but did not finish the job.

In their initial request, the developers -- property owner Wally Diehl and his Fall Creek Redevelopment, O'Brien & Gere engineers, and Travis & Travis development -- asked the state to transfer all the money, and planned to increase the number of townhome condominiums from 33 to 45.

Developer Frost Travis said that now, with only half the money being transferred, he would prefer not to increase above 45 units, but he doesn't want to "rule out any option."

"From the state's point of view, and I can understand this, they've been entrusted with these public funds and they want to make sure they're put to work in the most cost-effective manner. And they feel that if they don't have some money in reserve, then there's no guarantee the project would actually happen," Travis said.

On the other hand, without a clean site, nothing will be developed, he said.

"I'm willing to forego the $800,000 that I otherwise would be eligible for towards the redevelopment, because without it going toward the remediation, there's no cleanup," he said.
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New Year's date changing lights on the Ithaca College twin tower dorms:


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I know Ithaca is an education center, but whenever the "development" word is mentioned, there's more studies done than for finals at Cornell (though I do agree the newly discovered dumps have to be looked into). From the Ithaca Journal:



Ithaca planning board wants more study for West Hill proposal
Former dump site found on property
By Krisy Gashler •kgashler@gannett.com • January 5, 2010, 10:05 pm

The Ithaca Town Planning Board wants more information on traffic, market need, and a newly re-discovered former dump site before allowing a West Hill subdivision to go forward.

The Planning Board Tuesday discussed the draft environmental impact statement prepared for Holochuck Homes, a proposed 106-unit townhouse development on Route 96 south of Cayuga Medical Center.

The board decided to require the Holochuck developers to conduct a supplemental environmental investigation and impact statement on contamination that may be left from one or more dump sites on their land. The dumps were not re-discovered until recently. One of the dumps was formerly associated with Cayuga Medical Center, and may contain medical waste, board member Susan Riha said.

The board also discussed ever-controversial traffic issues, and individual board members questioned claims made by both the developer's consultants and by West Hill residents.

In public hearings, some West Hill residents have asserted that it takes them as much as 15 minutes to turn out of their driveways onto Route 96.

Board member Fred Wilcox said he's been on the planning board for many years and he hears the same argument every time a subdivision is proposed: "'Everybody speeds on our road; everybody drives too fast.' Maybe I'm jaded."

Wilcox said board members should be certain they're basing decisions on real data. Board member George Conneman said people also sometimes overestimate the amount of time it takes them to turn at intersection.

City of Ithaca transportation engineer Tim Logue sent a letter to the board questioning the developer's traffic projections, and saying traffic in Ithaca's West End is already worse than acknowledged by the developer.

Traffic issues in the West End have gotten much worse in the last 10 years, but the reason is both an increase in cars from West Hill and improper timing of city traffic signals, board member Kevin Talty said.

Riha and other board members also faulted the developer's traffic study for assuming that only 60 percent of cars exiting Holochuck Homes would turn south toward the city, while 40 percent would turn north toward the hospital or Trumansburg. A far higher percentage will be coming into the city, Riha said.

Planning Director Jon Kanter also reported that Cayuga Medical Center administrators have agreed to consider allowing one of the exit roads from Holochuck to connect to their existing traffic light if certain conditions can be met, such as ensuring that new traffic won't slow down ambulances.

Board member Hollis Erb said she was "absolutely thrilled" by the shift in the hospital's position.
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Old Posted Jan 9, 2010, 1:12 AM
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Seems like a pretty good program (from the Ithaca Journal):





New program aims to help home-seekers
Low-income buyers eligible for affordable, energy-efficient houses
By Krisy Gashler •kgashler@gannett.com • January 7, 2010, 7:30 pm


Ithaca Neighborhood Housing Services is starting a new program aimed at stretching public dollars and maintaining the long-term stock of affordable housing in Ithaca.

At the end of this month, INHS will begin marketing the first six homes in its new Community Housing Trust. Ithaca's housing trust is based on a model first developed 25 years ago and now used in 170 communities across the country.

According to Paul Mazzarella, executive director of the not-for-profit INHS, the housing trust works like this:

* INHS will continue to help people with low incomes buy homes through a variety of subsidies. For example, home construction or renovation is subsidized, largely through state and federal grants, and low-income homebuyers are eligible for low- or no-interest loans to help cover down payment and other costs.

* A low-income buyer can benefit from a home's appreciated value over time -- but only to a maximum of 2 percent per year. This allows INHS to keep home prices affordable long-term for future buyers. INHS chose 2 percent because historically in upstate New York, that's the rate at which incomes have risen among low-paying jobs.

* A buyer purchases a home, but INHS retains ownership of the land beneath the home. This both reduces a home's initial cost and prevents a buyer from selling a home and taking off with the tens of thousands of dollars in government subsidy invested in that home to make it affordable. The home owner is still responsible for paying property taxes on the full value of the home and land beneath.

So, for example, if INHS has built a home with a market value of $200,000, the agency may gain enough subsidies through federal, state, and local grants to be able to sell it for $140,000. If a low-income home buyer purchases the home and lives in it for seven years, and the home's market value appreciates to $237,000, the homeowner would be eligible to keep $19,600 of the appreciated value, based on a formula that takes into account the buyer's purchase and sale prices, and caps appreciation at no more than 2 percent per year. The homeowner also gets to keep any equity he or she earned in paying down the mortgage.

The rest of the increased value stays with the house, so the sale price for the next low-income home buyer would be $169,600.

Tompkins County, the City of Ithaca and Cornell University have included the program in the list of projects they could support as part of a joint planning effort precipitated by Cornell's offer to invest $10 million over 10 years in housing, transportation and other infrastructure.

Tompkins County Planning Commissioner Ed Marx said the model is an improvement over others because it allows the public investment to reap benefits over the long term, and it keeps affordable housing units available in the community.

"This system Paul's working on really seems to have long-term viability," Marx said. "The benefit is that over time we build an inventory of high-quality affordable housing units in the community that are there permanently and are not just in specific, isolated developments but are really more integrated throughout the community, which is a highly desirable way to have housing of various costs and affordability mixed in neighborhoods."

The Community Housing Trust program is limited to people with incomes 80 percent of or less than the Tompkins County median income, based on family size and updated each year. Currently, the income limit for a single person is $40,200; for two people it's $45,950; for families of three it's $51,700; for families of four it's $57,450.

An open house for the first six homes in the Community Housing Trust program is scheduled for 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 23. Four homes are on Corn Street and two are on Elm -- and all are LEED Platinum certified for energy efficiency. Another home on Hancock Street is available under an older INHS model that restricts the home's appreciation but doesn't separate out the land from the home.

For more information to go www.ithacanhs.org or call 277-4500.
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Old Posted Jan 22, 2010, 12:01 AM
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Though there are some inaccuracies in this article, I think you'll get the idea. Kind of surprised NY state is still funding stuff like this with the huge deficit the state is dealing with. From the Ithaca Journal:

City committee endorses abatements for renovation of Commons building
January 20, 2010, 10:11 pm

Ithaca Common Council's planning committee is willing to grant tax breaks to help turn the former Plantations building on the Commons into a new restaurant and upper-story apartments.

The committee voted 4-1 Wednesday night to show its support of tax abatements for Lex Chutintaranond and Flaminia Cervesi's proposal to renovate their building at 132 The Commons. The couple also runs Thai Cuisine, Madeline's, Za Za's Cucina, and Just a Taste.

The project also received a state Restore NY grant for $900,000 to help underwrite the estimated $2.5 million renovation. Of the eight proposed apartments, two are slated to be affordable for low- to moderate-income renters.

Council members at the meeting were unanimously enthusiastic about the proposal. Committee Chairwoman Jennifer Dotson, I-1st, was the only vote against. She said that while she supports the project, she feels an obligation to her constituents to be extremely conservative about granting property tax breaks, and she still had too many unanswered questions about things like labor standards, green restaurant standards, and accessibility for people with disabilities.

Council member Ellen McCollister, D-3rd, urged her colleagues to support the tax abatements quickly to help ensure the project's success.

The issue is scheduled to come before the full Common Council in February. If approved by the council, it would then move to the Tompkins County Industrial Development Agency, which is the group with the authority to actually grant tax abatements.

Chutintaranond said his goal is to begin construction in February and open the restaurant and apartments by August.
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Old Posted Jan 27, 2010, 8:58 PM
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I guess it couldn't hurt. Here's a pic of the bridge in question (from what I gathered):



Article from the Ithaca Times


Downtown Ithaca bringing mural to Green Street underpass

Rob Montana
Managing Editor

The Downtown Ithaca Alliance is trying to pretty up, well, downtown Ithaca.

The agency is seeking artists to create a mural on the south side wall of the Aurora Street Bridge underpass on Green Street.

"The Commission seeks to create a public art mural at a highly visible vehicular community location in the heart of downtown," states the information for artists. "The surface is a concrete wall with approximate dimensions of 30-feet by 16-feet.

"This is primarily a vehicular location but does have some pedestrian traffic. The durability of this mural is an important consideration. Under the terms of the funding program, the mural must remain in place for seven years," the draft added. "This is seen as a site specific project and content should be appropriate to the site. This is an open theme but artists are urged to consider work that reflects the character, history, multi-cultural nature or diversity of Ithaca."

Gary Ferguson, Downtown Ithaca Alliance executive director, said the initiative is still waiting on official approval from the city's Board of Public Works but felt confident about its OK after hearing the board's discussion at its last meeting. The DIA is anticipating the work to start by April 1 and be finished no later than June 15.

"We'd like to get someone under contract by then (April 1)," Ferguson said. "When the work will actually start will be somewhat weather dependent. We just want to make sure we're using up the money when we're supposed to.

"I'm very excited about doing it at this location, it's a highly visible location," he added. "It will help connect one portion of Green Street with the other."

Brett Bossard, executive director of Community Arts Partnership of Tompkins County, said the benefit of having public art and projects like the mural is to connect the community.

"It's another chance to bond the community together over art, with art," he said. "One of the things with public art is that it engages the community in a way that other pieces of architecture or parts of downtown don't do."

"It's one of the things that rounds out the community experience," Bossard added. "Art that engages the community attracts interest, and hopefully attracts new residents and visitors."

This mural project also may be the jumping off point for more of the same around the city.

"The hope is this is the beginning of a larger sort of citywide program to identify sites that would be good for murals throughout Ithaca," Bossard said, "looking at different walls that are city owned that could use some beautification.

"This particular one is going to be funded through some state money Gary (Ferguson) has gotten for improvements," he added. "The idea is hopefull this will gather interest by artists that in the future might be paired with sites approved by the Board of Public Works."

Ferguson said the Public Art Commission is currently working on a proposal for the Board of Public Works with potential sites for other mural projects. He expects something formal will be presented to the BPW next month.

"We'll try to get an agreement at that time about sites that would be appropriate," Ferguson said, "and then the Public Art Commission can start trying to fund raise for money and attract artists for the work.

"It will be a whole lot easier once you know the possibilities," he added.

The mural project proposal will be structured similarly to how the Art in the Heart of Downtown program has worked, Ferguson said, where the Board of Public Works approved a certain number of spaces and approval for each one is not required.

"But we do have people from public works on the selection committee, so they're not in the dark," he said.

Making the decision on the artist and work to be installed at the site will be the Public Art Commission. Proposals will be juried based on the appropriateness of work to location, quality of prior work and the description of proposed work. Artists are asked to submit a sketch of the proposed work, including a budget for materials and equipment; a description of work/narrative; an artist resume and graphics of at least three previous pieces.

Proposals should be submitted to the Downtown Ithaca Alliance, 171 The Commons, #136, Ithaca, NY 14850 or gary@downtownithaca.com. The deadline for proposal submissions is Feb. 26.

Bossard said he thinks it the process will go smoothly, and doesn't think controversy will emerge like it did with the Buffalo Street bridge public art project.

"I don't think so because there will be a larger jury for the selection of this," he said when asked about the potential for generating controversy. "As gar as the selection process, the Public Art Commission will look at all the pieces, including of course members of the Board of Public Works. I don't anticipate it being anywhere near as controversial."

Funding for the project is from the New York Main Street program, administered by the Downtown Ithaca Alliance. The $2,000 grant would be paid to cover all artist expenses and costs. The project is open to proposals from all artists residing in New York state.
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I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the count goes well for Tompkins County(Ithaca). From the Ithaca Times:



Tompkins County working to ensure 100,000 residents

Bill Chaisson
North Reporter

Tompkins County probably has over 100,000 people living here. But "probably" isn't good enough for federal aid. Every 10 years the U.S. Census Bureau attempts to count everyone in the county, and the number that they come up with is the one that is used when important funding decisions are made. In 2000 the census of the county totaled 96,501.

"The forms are mailed in mid-March," said Janice Young, the coordinator for the Elmira office of the Census Bureau. "You get a letter first and then the forms with a self-addressed envelope, and then a follow-up postcard reminder."

This standard procedure does not apply to "group quarters" (which includes dormitories), post office boxes, or areas that are so remote that they will only get a personal visit.

Young was in Ithaca on Friday, Jan. 15 to speak to the "Complete Count Committee," which has been organized by the Tompkins County legislature and includes legislators, city and county officials, representatives from Cornell, Ithaca College and TC3, and managers of the county's social service organizations. The most undercounted groups in Tompkins County are the undergraduate students, the poor and the homeless.

"The challenge of counting the students is that when they receive the forms to mail in, they're all here," said committee chair Pam Mackesey (D, City of Ithaca), "but then when the census goes door to door in May and June, they're all gone."

John Gutenberger, Cornell's vice president of government and community relations, remembers the 2000 effort to count students.

"The language in the forms was very confusing last time. It's better this time through," he said looking through the sample. "But it is still unclear because it's addressed to the parents. It says right here, 'Don't count anyone away at college or in the military.' The students read that and say, 'I don't have to do this,' and then they throw it away."

Legislator Frank Proto (R, Town of Caroline) was on the committee in 2000 and is a member again this year.

"Last time we told [students], 'You're counted wherever your head hits the pillow on April first," he said. "It worked relatively well."

April 1 is the official "census day"; wherever you are living on that day is where you should be counted.

The students are divided into two groups by the census. Those who live off campus are counted as regular residents in whatever community they attend college. Students who live on campus are treated like the residents of nursing homes under the "group quarters" umbrella. They will not receive individual forms in the mail. Rather, census workers will set up stations at campuses and retirement communities to count the inhabitants.

"The campuses were supposedly blasted with information," said Young, admitting that it was not part of her responsibilities.

"I can see you look puzzled," she said to Gutenberger. "That's not a good sign."

Young has two former Cornell students working in her Elmira office who are focusing on counting the students of Cornell and Ithaca College.

"They are finding one roadblock after another," she said.

Gutenberger told Young to have them call him.

The other traditionally difficult group to count is the poor.

"The poor have moved to outlying areas from the cities since the last census," said Legislator Kathy Luz Herrera (D, City and Town of Ithaca).

Young responded that the American Community Survey had identified the difficult to enumerate areas in the entire county. The ACS has conducted several counts of random samples of residents since the last census.

Cattyann Campbell of Tompkins County GIS Services circulated a map that showed the percentage of residents counted in census tracts across the county, made by comparing 2000 data to ACS data from subsequent sampling. The most glaringly undercounted location is the village of Trumansburg, where less than 50 percent of the residents were accounted for because of a large number of errors in the address database (i.e., they never received their census survey forms). Other low count areas seemed associated with higher densities of manufactured housing and with student housing in Collegetown.

"In upstate New York a general concern is the snowbirds," said Young. "Where are they on April 1? A lot of them go down south in January and return in May. They receive goods and services for six months here. We tell them not to fill in the resident form in Florida. The door-to-door count will find them during the summer."

In many areas of the country migrant workers are also a significantly undercounted group. However, because farm workers generally follow the harvest, there are very few in upstate New York on April 1. Young was reminded at the meeting that there was a significant number of workers on dairy farms who were present all year, but maybe difficult to locate.

Young told the committee that there would be "assistance centers" set up in tracts that were poorly counted. She said that the locations had been arranged with input from local agencies.

"We have a rural, poor conservative population that is hard to count," said Young. "The Census will be joining with other social service organizations giving out food in soup kitchens et cetera in order to win the trust of those that we have to count."

Larry Roberts, the program director for the Center of Independent Living, brought up the issue of the deaf.

"There is a language barrier," he said. "A lot of the deaf are functionally illiterate in English. They can't fill out a form and they wouldn't understand a census taker at the door."

Young admitted that she had never considered this issue and asked to speak with Roberts about it. There are large deaf communities in Elmira and Rochester.

Roberts also mentioned the prevalence of people in group homes and "supported apartments." He asked if these facilities would be defined as "group quarters" and Young again admitted that she did not know. Roberts described this community as constituting a "huge number" in Tompkins County.

Mackesey hopes that the county can reach 100,000 in the 2010 census.

"It is a whole different level of federal funding for transportation and social services," she said. "This time the county has a GPS system, so the census bureau has a list of all the living units in the county."

The assembled officials also noted that the emergence of "social media" on the Internet since the 2000 census should make it easier to reach college students this time around.

The new chair of the legislature, Martha Robertson (D, Dryden), stopped into the Friday meeting briefly to remind everyone of the importance of the census count.

"New York State stands to lose population," she said. "And without systematic outreach to the colleges and universities all across the state, we will lose representation in Congress."
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Old Posted Feb 3, 2010, 11:38 AM
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I've included a couple of comments on this city development article to show that there are a few folks who aren't afraid to go up instead of out. From the Ithaca Journal:


801 E. State St., left, and houses in the 700 block on the south side of East State Street comprise a section of the street whose ownership is now listed as Collegetown Terrace Apartments LLC. The project is scheduled for review by the City of Ithaca's Planning and Development Board. (SIMON WHEELER / Staff Photo)



Development vs. preservation is top concern in city-county discussions
By Krisy Gashler •kgashler@gannett.com • February 1, 2010, 7:10 pm

The best way to discourage suburban sprawl through Tompkins County is to focus development in the City of Ithaca, but how can city leaders do that and maintain a community that's livable for current residents?

That was one of the issues discussed in a meeting last week between the city's Planning and Development Board and two county planning officials involved in a Route 96 corridor management study. That study encourages concentrating development near Cayuga Medical Center, in Jacksonville and in Trumansburg, and minimizing development in surrounding agricultural areas.

The planning board was critical of dense development near the hospital, and argued the county should have placed more emphasis on the city as the best place for growth.

"I think our challenge is to attract and design the kind of housing people want to live in, in the city," said board member David Kay.

Board members pointed to the 600-unit mixed-income neighborhood the city is developing in the Southwest as an ideal example of sustainable, affordable development. The city has spent $372,000 so far on planning and environmental studies related to the neighborhood, City Controller Steve Thayer said.

The Southwest neighborhood will be a big contribution, said Tompkins County Planning Commissioner Ed Marx, but it won't be enough to fill the need for 4,000 housing units over 10 years, as determined by a 2007 county study. When the study was completed, city leaders estimated they could accommodate roughly 1,000 of those units, Marx said.

"If there was a sense that the city could absorb it all, we wouldn't be having this discussion," he said.

Another big development proposal -- John Novarr's Collegetown Terrace Apartments -- could add 600 units off East State Street near Cornell University.

But that development faces opposition by some city leaders, including Mayor Carolyn Peterson. She's spearheading a proposal to reduce allowable density in yet-to-be-defined sections of the city, likely including Novarr's property.

Collegetown developer and landlord Nick Lambrou said Friday that it seems inconsistent for the city to say it wants to encourage development in the city generally, and then discourage developments such as Novarr's.

"You can't preserve things in amber -- things change. The houses Mr. Novarr is proposing to tear down were built for different uses way back when," he said. "Planning needs to also adjust with the times."

Planning board Chairman John Schroeder is a member of the working group looking at the down-zoning, which he says the planning board has been asking the city to consider, in some form, since 2007. He said Friday that the two planning efforts are complimentary, not contradictory.

"One of the ways you ensure that the city is a place where people want to live ... is to preserve the essential characteristics of the community and the form that makes it an attractive place to live," he said. "You don't want to destroy the attributes of the community that make it a desirable place to live."

Maintaining a balance between development and preservation is notoriously hard, Kay said.

"I can also tell you from almost every project I've ever been involved in -- even in EcoVillage -- nobody wants a new neighborhood coming into their backyard," he said.

Collegetown developer and landlord Nick Lambrou said Friday that it seems inconsistent for the city to say it wants to encourage development in the city generally, and then discourage developments such as Novarr's.

"You can't preserve things in amber -- things change. The houses Mr. Novarr is proposing to tear down were built for different uses way back when," he said. "Planning needs to also adjust with the times."

Planning board Chairman John Schroeder is a member of the working group looking at the down-zoning, which he says the planning board has been asking the city to consider, in some form, since 2007. He said Friday that the two planning efforts are complimentary, not contradictory.

"One of the ways you ensure that the city is a place where people want to live ... is to preserve the essential characteristics of the community and the form that makes it an attractive place to live," he said. "You don't want to destroy the attributes of the community that make it a desirable place to live."

Maintaining a balance between development and preservation is notoriously hard, Kay said.

"I can also tell you from almost every project I've ever been involved in -- even in EcoVillage -- nobody wants a new neighborhood coming into their backyard," he said.


Here's the link, and the comments:

http://www.theithacajournal.com/arti...ty+discussions
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