October 6, 2004

Sailing Team Protests Future Lakeside Inn

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The Town of Ithaca Planning Board voted last night to demand an environmental impact study on the proposed site for the Remington Inn on Cayuga Lake.

The proposed inn would include a 258-seat restaurant, a two-story 25-guest lodge, and a 4,690 square foot boathouse. There would also be a public walkway along the lake.

The vote came after two days of quarter carding by members of the Cornell Sailing team. The team asked the community to sign an online petition requesting that the inn’s entire existence be reconsidered. As of last night, there were 874 signatures on the website. Almost 20 members of the team were present at the meeting.

The land, which stretches for 11.4 acres on Route 34, is currently owned by Cornell Real Estate, which plans to lease it out to The Remington Inn and Restaurant.

Dave Schlosser of Schopfer Architects in Syracuse spoke for the Remington Inn at the meeting.

He pointed out that the proposed building will cover “less than 16 percent” of the total area of the land, and the marina will remain “unchanged.”

According to Schlosser, building the inn would “leave the park itself unchanged”, would clean up the entire lakefront and would include about $400,000 worth of infrastructure improvements, which would otherwise fall on the Town.

“There’s a liability and safety hazard currently there,” he said.

Members of the Town of Ithaca community, however, raised concerns about the impact the proposal would have on the surrounding area, including noise, run-off and parking, parts of which is shared between the hotel, the marina, the restuarant and public use.

“Having been in the hotel business for a long time, I can tell you that parking is going to be an abomination. There will be overflow onto Route 13 when you have a restaurant with a marina and hotel will reduce the property values of the cottages to the north,” said Dick Thayler, a resident.

Others argued that the inn would have a harmful effect on the community at large.

“You have a unique oppportunity to provide recreation and beauty for the community,” said Carl Leopold, at which point Chair Fred T. Wilcox suggested such concerns be brought before the Town of Ithaca Board, “which can negotiate with Cornell,” he said.

Friends of Cornell Sailing, a non-profit group of sailors and alumni, also argue that the inn is not the best use of the site. The group has been given a proposed gift of $500,000 from the Merrill Foundation for a 5,000 square foot marina and 5,000 square foot center for lake research and education on the site, which they say would be used for athletic, educational and research programs as well as community outreach.

“This had become a de facto public park. People launch kayaks and canoes and small boats off it. … Part of President Lehman’s Call to Engagement was to engage the community and build community relations. This doesn’t really fit,” said Andrew Davis ’02, vice president and director of Friends of Cornell Sailing. Doug Merrill ’89 has begun working with members of the Board of Trustees to encourage them to revisit the issue at their meeting at the end of October. “This is the only site on Cayuga that is suitable to meet the team’s needs,” Merrill said.

He said he “hasn’t gotten a solid answer from Cornell” as to why they have not accepted his and the sailing team’s proposal.

“I don’t think Cornell thought this through,” he said.

Merrill estimated that the University will make $8,000 a year off the land. Merrill also said that the proposed boathouse within the confines of the inn is “not unacceptable from a sailing point of view. My family feels that it doesn’t create a space for the Cornell community. If the restaurant and hotel are struggling for survival, those shared spaces may become exclusive,” he said.

Calls made late last night to Gary Stewart, vice president for community and government relations, were unanswered.

Archived article by Freda Ready
Sun Managing Editor