April 24, 2003

Treman Historic District Plans on Track

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Yesterday, the City of Ithaca Planning and Economic Development Committee heard a proposal to create a historic district in between University Ave., Stewart Ave. and Cornell Ave., to be known as the Cornell-Treman Historic District. The area includes a large population of both student housing and single family residences.

Leslie Chatterton ’86, Janet Shure grad ’02 and Joanna Luks represented a neighborhood commission in favor of the proposal at the committee meeting at 7:30 p.m. last night in the Common Council Chambers of City Hall.

Shure estimated that approximately one-half of the buildings in the area were owned by single families. The wide variety of residents in the area have been largely supportive of the move to create the historic district, in spite of the maintenance requirements that a historic district would be expected to have. To reassure the residents and the committee, Chatterton emphasized that maintenance would be largely limited to external detail.

“Initially there was some trepidation for property owners and homeowners, thinking ‘what is this process all about, how is it going to affect us?’ But I think that Leslie and Janet have demystified that process. We’ve had a lot of communication that way,” Luks said. “I think that there’s a lot of enthusiasm for this project, it’s a broad based appeal; it’s a combination of homeowners, rental property owners, plus the fraternities and long term residents. I haven’t heard of anyone, in terms of the notion of historic designation, who has been against the idea.”

Much of the territory in the area had been owned at one point by one of two prominent Ithaca families: the Cornells and the Tremans.

“Originally there were nine properties identified that were related to the Cornell and Treman families both of [the families] had significant influence on the town of Ithaca and on the growth of the town,” Shure said. “The Treman family were benefactors of the community in many ways, they were the head of the savings bank, the Tompkins Trust was started under them, Ithaca Water, they had impact on the street railway system. Robert Treman, whose home is in the center of the district gave [the backing for] Treman Park, Buttermilk Falls, Enfield Falls, Cascadilla Falls; it had significant impact on this community…the other significant reason for this is the Cornell family. Ezra Cornell built his home there, this property all was part of Ezra Cornell’s farm, which was donated to create Cornell University.”

The historic designation would likely have large ramifications for the future to the planned parking lot and water tank that has been proposed in the area.

“One of the things that has been the main focus for the neighborhood association has been the combined impact of the proposed water tank and parking lot on the historic property,” Chatterton said. “[Designation as a historic district] would require a more meaningful negotiation…the Landmarks Commission, being a part of the City of Ithaca, doesn’t actually have a jurisdiction over that, but there is a requirement that there be a meaningful interaction between the department responsible for citing that and the Landmarks Commission in an effort to really minimize the impact.”

The Committee also heard reports on the Cayuga Waterfront Trail, a proposal to construct a path between Inlet Island and the Ithaca Farmers’ Market.

“We have secured funding for ‘Phase Two,’ the City of Ithaca has obtained $488,000 for building the trail,” said Fred Bonn, director of Public Relations and Membership, Tompkins County Chamber of Commerce, in reference to the Federal Transportation Enhancement Grant that the project received.

According to Rick Manning grad ’88, the coordinator of the trail initiative, the entire project is divided into four phases. The first phase, which opened in October 2002, built a trail in Cass Park, while “Phase Two” will connect Cass Park to Inlet Island, and Inlet Island to the Farmers’ Market. “Phase Three” will continue the path to Stewart Park and “Phase Four” will extend the path north of Cass Park to Allan H. Treman State Marine Park.

By the end of the summer, gardens and benches should be added along the completed trail in Cass Park, according to Manning.

“This year, we also plan to design ‘Phase Two,’ Manning said. “There’s a lot of local and state approval that will take some time, but we hope to have it finished by 2004.”

Members of the Chamber of Commerce expressed excitement over the project.

“Some of the unique things about [the initiative] is it’s an outstanding public-private interaction,” Bonn said. “The Chamber of Commerce and City of Ithaca have teamed up. The Chamber’s real involvement is that we can help make the project happen. We can bring some corporate support and resources that the city may not be able to leverage. It will be one of the jewels of the Finger Lakes once completed.”

An ordinance to limit the duration and size of banners, posters, and signs in the City of Ithaca also went before the Committee, but the voting on the resolution was postponed due to various points that the Committee wished to review. The ordinance would restrict the sizes of for sale, parking and rental signs as well as the duration of time that the signs can be up.

Archived article by David Hillis