October 5, 2000

Ithaca Common Council Addresses Parking Issue

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In an effort to alleviate the Collegetown parking shortage, the Ithaca Common Council passed an ordinance last night requiring developers planning to make additions on existing structures to provide a parking space for every two tenants within 500 feet of their place of residence.

Overcrowded parking was among the issues studied during a 10-month moratorium on construction in Collegetown, which ended July 5.

Following the moratorium, based on the recommendations of the Ithaca Department of Planning and Development, the city changed the parking requirements for new construction in Collegetown. The old requirement stipulated that developers provide one parking space for every three beds in a building. The ratio was increased to one space per two beds.

“[The ordinance] is just completing what we did a couple months ago,” said Susan Blumenthal ’78, (D-3rd) chair of the city’s planning and economic development committee.

The new ordinance mandates that if the number of tenants increases due to a building expansion, the parking space requirements apply only to the additional occupants.

Another stipulation requires that offsite parking be located within 500 feet of the building along a public street, according to H. Matthys Van Cort, director of planning and development. New buildings and additions to older structures cannot be constructed unless the plans include enough parking to abide by the new ordinance.

This rule has posed a potential obstacle for property owner William Avramis, who wants to develop his property on 319 College Ave. The site plan, which received preliminary approval, would need a variance from the zoning code because it does not include sufficient on-site parking. The garage that would provide parking is located more than 330 feet beyond the ordinance’s limit, according to Jane Marcham, city planning board member.

The Common Council has also been discussing projects to expand existing parking garages or build new ones in downtown Ithaca and Collegetown. The cost of these new facilities is expected to range from $50,000 to $75,000, according to Van Cort.

“There are plenty of students living in Collegetown who have the means to bring a car to school with them, but they don’t because they don’t want the hassle of parking,” said Josh Glasstetter ’01 (D-4th), a member of the Common Council. “If more parking becomes available, more of these people will bring their cars up with them.”

Possible projects in Collegetown include adding more floors to the garage on Dryden Road, constructing a garage in the middle of the block surrounded by Eddy Street, College Avenue, Dryden Road and Catherine Street, or engaging in a cooperative arrangement with Cornell to build a jointly-owned facility on the University-owned lot at Stewart and Williams Streets.

Archived article by Heather Schroeder