February 2, 2006

Ithaca to Revamp C-Town

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Ithaca’s Common Council set out to revive Collegetown, which Alderperson Mary Tomlan M.A. ’71 (D-3rd Ward) described as “looking a little tired,” as Council members voted unanimously last night to establish a task force to look into reshaping the area over the next five to 10 years.

The task force is charged with making recommendations about land use, parking and incentives for developers, among other things, to prepare a Collegetown Vision Statement within the next four months.

“Collegetown saw a lot of activity and development in the 1980s,” Tomlan said. “That was also a decade when there were a lot of new buildings built. Cornell invested in rehabbing and renovating Sheldon Court and Cascadilla Hall, and then the arts center was built, and then the parking was built, more apartment buildings were built and that started changing things in Collegetown. Not much has been done since then, either to upgrade the parking situation or upgrade the public works aspect of it.”

Tomlan, who chairs the Planning, Economic Development and Environmental Quality committee, which brought the resolution to the Council, said that, although she had many ideas for the vision statement, she did not want to preempt the task force by declaring them yet.

But Council member Gayraud Townsend ’05 (D-4th Ward) speculated that offices for professors, computer labs and possibly even classrooms in Collegetown would be considered for the final vision statement. Townsend said that two of the issues he wants addressed are parking and retail property.

“You drive through Collegetown today, you see so many open spots, even retail spaces,” Townsend said before the Council voted in favor of the task force.

Council member David Gelinas ’07 (D-4th Ward) said his main interest was in the area’s overall aesthetics. He said that he would like to see pavements and signs redone to make the area more attractive and that store-owners should be given incentives to revive their storefronts.

“We want people to come to Collegetown and walk around and enjoy themselves without spending money,” he said.

Another major bullet on both Gelinas’ and Townsend’s wish lists was a general overhaul of Collegetown which would make the area less dependent on students.

“I think part of the vision that’s floating around