January 29, 2003

Residents Protest Parking Plans

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Students crowded the monthly meeting of the City of Ithaca Planning and Development to discuss the proposed parking lot and water tank on the block below Stewart Avenue and above University Avenue. Even though it was not on the agenda, the Board found themselves dealing with the issue because approximately 50 students and neighborhood residents in attendance vehemently opposed the lot, which is part of the West Campus Residential Initiative.

Twenty-seven students were present to voice their disapproval of the proposed construction site on the grounds of the potential damage to the historical, ecological, and financial value of the area.

“We are very opposed to the proposed construction, and so are hundreds of our alumni,” said Michael Pusateri ’05, current undergraduate president of Delta Phi (Llenroc), whose property is near one of the two proposed sites for the potential water tank. The water tank proposal was put forth by the City of Ithaca.

“This is not just some water tower, we’re talking about a structure that is 17 feet high and over 100 feet in diameter. It’s as big as our mansion,” Pusateri said.

11 of the 21 undergraduate brothers currently living in Delta Phi were present at the meeting.

“It’s (the proposed site) not just a pretty place to look at, and it’s not just a dead area. I can’t count the number of times I have seen residents on the land,” David Kent ’05 said.

“The main issues concern the nice buffer zone that this land provides between campus and University Ave,” said Calvin Croll ’04, president of the co-op at 660 Stewart Ave. “People assume that only students live on University Ave, but in actuality there are a lot of elderly and retired persons who have always lived there. This parking lot will be destructive to the neighborhood. The increased light, traffic, and noise from a 175-space parking lot will decrease the quality of life for them greatly.”

Vice President for University relations Henrik N. Dullea ’61, stated that Cornell had researched other possible alternatives for the proposed lot.

“We’ve researched other sites, including underground parking, and found that the construction costs due to the bedrock are simply not feasible given the amount of money students would have to pay in order to use the parking spaces,” Dullea said.

“We are authorized for this use of the site and have done everything possible in planning the lighting, size, and the planting of greenery in order to minimize the impact on the neighborhood’s appearance,” Dullea added. “Some people just don’t like parking lots, and there is nothing we can do to change that.”

Croll said that Cornell was showcasing an apparent double standard in its decision to ignore the residents’ complaints.

“Because our house was built at the turn of the century and is Cornell-owned, we are forced to use the exact same historic roof tiles in our reconstruction of the roof. That drives the cost up above one million dollars,” Croll said. “How can they complain about which roof tiles we use while at the same time destroying half the neighborhood?”

Croll added that the students felt that Cornell merely brushed by their concerns, using consultants who skated the issues without actually addressing them. The proposed accommodations made to the lot were also unsatisfactory in the eyes of Pusateri.

“If you look at the plan, it’s a pretty ugly green wall. From an aesthetic perspective, it obscures the lot but doesn’t really solve the problem,” Pusateri said.

Archived article by Gautham Nagesh