March 4, 2003

Ithaca City Board Approves West Campus Construction

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Students living on West Campus will soon be waking to the sound of bulldozers in the morning. After months of waiting, the West Campus Residential Initiative (WCRI) is finally ready to begin construction.

The project received final site approval for Phase 1 and preliminary site approval for the full initiative at last Tuesday’s meeting of the City of Ithaca Planning and Development Board. The first phase will include all of Building 1 and a portion of Building 2.

This past weekend, students parking in the lot on the corner of University and Stewart Avenues were asked to move their vehicles so the area could be fenced off and construction moved in.


Project leader Jean Reese estimates that a ground-breaking ceremony will not take place until later in the spring, but she was nevertheless optimistic that work would continue on schedule. After preliminary preparations, foundation work will begin later this spring, followed by two years of construction.

“We are very happy with the positive conclusion of the municipal process,” Reese said. “We are beginning the search for the faculty member to head Building 1, which shows that we are really planning on opening it by August 2004.”

The new buildings were designed by the Kieran Timberlake Associates architecture firm and rely heavily on the Gothic designs of Baker and Boldt Halls.


“From the windows to the arches and the roofs, the buildings will be borrowing heavily from the Gothics, but they will be much larger buildings, with study spaces, music rooms and more,” Reese said.

To make room for the later stages of the project, the current class halls will be demolished as the new buildings are completed.

“We have to keep a certain number of beds so we can guarantee housing to freshmen and sophomores. After the first building is completed in August 2004 we plan to demolish Class of ’22 and Class of ’28 halls,” Reese said.

The beginning of construction will also bring headaches for many of the students living on West. Already, everyone parking in the Stewart Ave. lot has been relocated to either a temporary lot on the West Ave. tennis courts or to the Morrison lot near Schoellkopf Field.

“The first 100 students who applied for parking this year received a place in the temporary lot,” Reese said. “We have supplied the rest with bus passes to get to the Morrison lot.”

Students on West Campus were less than happy with the arrangements.

“I think it’s pretty shitty that they made us pay hundreds of dollars for a parking permit that we can only use half the year, without even telling us,” said Tanja Babich ’05, who has moved her car to a friend’s fraternity. “Who wants to ride the bus to get their car?”

“Students can expect some inconveniences, like the noise and altering of pedestrian walkways,” Reese said. “But we did notify them last March that this lot would be under construction in the spring.”

Work will be restricted by the City of Ithaca code to the hours of 8 a.m. to dusk, with shorter hours during study and exam weeks.

The City of Ithaca Planning Board has yet to give its final approval to the entire project plan, but Reese emphasized that the project was focusing on starting construction of Phase 1. The major stumbling block remains the planned parking lot on University Ave. below Stewart Ave., which has been heavily opposed by students and permanent residents in the area.

“A lot of them have strong positions, and I don’t know if we will be able to convince them otherwise,” Reese said. “The University has done its best to meet their concerns, and I’m not even sure if they are going to pursue the issue further.”

Archived article by Gautham Nagesh