October 17, 2002

New Athletic Fields Planned for the Wrong Spot

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Much to the chagrin of the athletic sector of our University, the demolition of Alumni Fields seems increasingly likely as Cornell officials met with the Town of Ithaca Planning Board on Tuesday night to discuss where to relocate two of the Tower Road practice fields.

In January of this year, the Board of Trustees chose Alumni Fields as the site for a multi-million dollar building that would integrate a wide range of sciences. This decision should come as no surprise to any student or staff member, as Cornell has always been devoted to academics and research. Classes are a priority over practices, so these fields were bound to go as the school outgrew the last of its available East Hill property.

Cornell was looking for a piece of land that would accommodate five practice fields, a small building, and a modest-sized parking lot. Of the dozen or so sites Cornell studied, it settled on land across from the Oxley Equestrian Center on the corner of Pine Tree and Ellis Hollow Road.

That lot is currently used as an annex for the Equine Research Park, where several handfuls of horses are kept. These horses could be easily moved to the actual research park near North Campus.

While the current inhabitants of that plot are not infringing on Cornell’s plans, local residents turned out two nights ago to express their stern opposition to the proposed fields.

Citing everything from the lights that would be installed on two of the fields to the domestication of “rural” land, residents were dissatisfied with Cornell’s selection of that property.

Most likely, Cornell will build on that land despite these concerns, as its proximity to campus is convenient.

Despite the nearness, however, athletes still have to be transported to the fields for practice. With that in mind, why not go just a few minutes more to less residential area and build there? Hanshaw Road has miles of empty fields and fewer locals to contend with. Perhaps Cornell could find some vacant property out on Route 89.

Cornell should rethink its choice of land for the new fields. It can find equally suitable ground within a five-mile radius that would generate fewer complaints from area residents.

While sports are an important part of this school, they are second to educational goals. The majority of students come to Cornell to study, and that is what the administration will give precedence. The building will and should be erected on Alumni Fields.

What Cornell can do to minimize the negative impact this move may have is to make a real effort to find land that will not seriously jeopardize the school’s relationship to the surrounding neighborhoods.

The current choice of land will do just that.

Archived article by Katherine Granish