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More responses to “showcase”

From Sophie:

A couple of additional points:

This project was initiated by Tompkins County and the design does follow sustainable concepts. It was unclear what role if any Eco Village played in selecting the 12 guiding sustainability principles. To the best of my understanding, the grant received with the help or participation of the Eco Village folks has not been used thus far, however, it certainly was waived as a banner to possibly garnish a wider acceptance for the project. At one point, Mr. Marx explained that the grant money will be used in the future for marketing the proposal and popularizing sustainable living concepts in the community.

  • County will sell the land to the developers at a discount.
  • All units will have solar panels.
  • Tenants will not be allowed to sub-lease the units.

Under this tax credit development program the tenants will be eligible for additional housing subsidies as dictated by their financial situation e.g. section 8.

The connection to the Black Diamond Trail was more of a promise or teaser, I believe. At this time, there were no definite plans on how this could be accomplished. There was a mention of some kind of talks with Cayuga Medical about access. Not sure that it is within the written project scope. We should probably verify this in the next meeting.

A vacated unit would be treated as an affordable housing unit. There are some clauses that would prevent the owners from flipping the units for profit on the open market. No further details were provided.

Tompkins County, the project sponsor, insisted the location of the development right across from the Cayuga Medical campus would somehow result in employment for the tenants despite the fact that this has not been the experience for the Overlook residents.

The issue of traffic congestion especially at the bottom of the hill, at the old octopus, was raised. The county admitted that at this time they have no long term plans to address the issue.

There were some concerns about the potential damage to neighboring properties from the dynamite assisted excavation.

The W.H. location for this development was questioned in light of the fact that we do not experience any economic base growth and that all existing and new companies or any new employment opportunities are on the other hills. If this is supposed to be a pilot sustainability project then the development should be located as close as possible to existing employers.

It was my impression that the meeting took place to satisfy the procedural step of consulting with the public. I did not get a sense that anything we collectively said, registered or that our feedback will be genuinely considered.

We requested a follow up meeting (no enthusiastic confirmation in return) and asked for additional information:

1. Comprehensive plans on how to resolve traffic congestion of W.H.

2. Information on Tompkins County and specifically Ithaca’s economic base growth (current and projections.) This one is especially important. Once we know that we have 5% of employers on the hill we can demand that we should not exceed the same % in development. A very strong and reasonable argument.

3. Information on Tompkins County and specifically Ithaca’s affordable development housing projects ( current and projected).

We might want to add the following to this list:

4. Crime and incident statistics per capita by hill or neighborhood plus past trending info.

5. Subsidized housing residents stats per capita by hill or neighborhood.

6. Poverty stats per capita by hill or neighborhood.

After the meeting, I briefly spoke with Mr.Marx and asked how this specific lot on West Hill was picked and what were the alternative sites. Apparently, there were no other lots considered!!!! So much for due diligence. The deciding factor was that the County owned the lot on W.H.

I also spoke with the president of Better Housing (sorry, the name escapes me at this moment) and suggested that by selecting the current location they set this pilot project for failure from the start. I indicated that a flat terrain (truly walkable and bikable) somewhere in the corridor between Cornell and IC would certainly be many times more suitable than what they are pushing for now. I also expressed a disappointment in the shortsightedness of the so called comprehensive plan that intends to build along the existing routes and by doing so exacerbates our traffic problems. He was receptive to the feedback and somewhat open to considering another site if we know of any. The lot would have to meet the following criteria:

  1. Available for sale
  2. Comparable size
  3. Near the municipal sewer and water (not necessarily on it but within a couple of hundred yards).

Let’s keep the iron hot. Do we have any land surveyors, land experts on W.H. that could do some research on the above? This could be a chance we were looking for to change the dynamics and direction of the discussion.

My best, Sophie

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