August 25, 2005

Redbud Parking Lot Construction Begins

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After months of public protests and private negotiations, the University and the Redbud Woods Working Group reached a deal this summer allowing the construction to continue on a controversial parking lot in exchange for bus passes for new students, amnesty for most of the protesters and the creation of a sustainability advisory committee.

The working group reached the deal with the University on July 18, a few days after the Cornell University Police Department began handing out citations and a crew erected a chain-link fence around the construction site.

“The University will assume additional responsibilities as a result of this agreement and is satisfied that the resolution of this situation is a positive development for all concerned,” stated a Cornell News Service press release.

The agreement states that all new students, including freshmen, transfer students and professional and graduate students, will receive a free transit pass if they do not request or receive a parking permit.

The agreement further states that “In the fall 2006, both the new students of that year and the second year students who enrolled in 2005 will be included [in the free pass commitment].”

The agreement also calls for the Student Assembly and Graduate and Professional Student Assembly to hold non-binding referenda on student attitudes towards parking, “including but not limited to, a potential ban on cars for freshmen.” If the assemblies are not interested in holding such referenda, the agreement states, “the Administration will conduct a survey on its own.”

In addition, a Cornell Neighborhood Council will convene six times a year to discuss issues of shared interest between the University and nearby neighborhoods. The statement also outlines the creation of several other committees to investigate sustainable growth issues and to report on why the opposition grew to the proposed parking lot in the first place.

The University also agreed to speak to the Judicial Administrator and “appropriate authorities” about forgiveness of the charges brought against protesters for trespassing and resisting arrest.

Joe Schwartz, University public information officer, said that the trespassing charges were given in “contemplation of dismissal,” meaning that if there are no other infractions, charges will be dropped officially in six months by the Ithaca City Court.

Those given citations still have to appear in court, however, with their appearance dates set for next Tuesday, according to a protester.

Schwartz said that as of Aug. 4, a total of 96 trespassing citations were handed out. Two were juveniles. In addition, an adult was charged with obstruction of justice of government administration and one was charged with criminal tampering.

Two protesters, Daisy Torres ’05 and Danny Pearlstein ’05, a Sun columnist, had their diplomas withheld last May pending the resolution of charges brought by the Judicial Administrator. The charges stemmed from the sit-in of the office of then-President Jeffrey S. Lehman ’77.

“This is a confidential matter which is being dealt with by the J.A.,” said Schwartz. “If a student has an open case at the time of graduation, any degrees will be put on hold pending the resolution of the matter.”

Among former protesters, feelings are bittersweet.

“They’re not being outstanding and quick to move on everything, but they haven’t broken their agreement,” said Fabian Canas ’07. “I’m not as happy as I could be, but I’m satisfied.”

He said that, given unforeseen complications with granting trespassing amnesty, the University is “doing the best they can.”

“We’re still working with the University to get everything that we agreed to happen to move forward,” he said.

Archived article by Michael Morisy
Sun News Editor
and Julie Zeveloff
Sun Staff Writer