Over the next few years, Collegetown will be getting a facelift. Ideas on how to revive the area were the main focus of yesterday’s Collegetown Neighborhood Council Meeting.
According to Alderperson Mary Tomlan M.A. ’71 (D-3rd Ward) the mayor has not yet named a chair or appointed anyone to the Collegetown Client Committee, which is the group that will be in charge of leading the area’s revitalization. However, a decision is close to being reached.
“I’m hopeful that it will happen within the next week,” Tomlan said.
Council member David Gelinas ’07 (D-4th Ward) also outlined the mission of the Committee.
“The goal is to formulate a vision for Collegetown,” he said. “We’re going to look at the problems Collegetown is experiencing now, where we want to be in 10 to 15 years and how do we get there.”
The committee will look at issues such as parking, traffic, appearance and zoning, and will make suggestions for the area.
“It’s not a major design plan for Collegetown,” Tomlan said. “We don’t have the resources for that.”
Instead, the committee will suggest and implement certain actions which will help improve the area and realize the vision.
“It will be very action-oriented and very specific,” Gelinas said. “The last time the city looked at development in Collegetown was 25 years ago.” He added that the city’s cooperation and support is very encouraging.
Another project which is working to help improve Collegetown is the Community Beautification Project.
Over the next year, the main focus will be on “areas tourists and visitors would see,” said Chrys Gardener, head of the project.
“The only difference between Ithaca and a first class tourism town is beautification,” said Paul Steiger, a landlord and resident. “We just don’t show off very well.”
The beautification process will occur on a pileup basis, with the first efforts focusing on the main roads into the town, such as East and West State Street.
“It probably won’t [work in Collegetown] this year,” Steiger said. “It’s going to take time to crank this up.”
In order to organize the beautification effort and help things run smoothly, residents will be asked to take the role of “block captain.” These people will take a leadership role and help motivate the other residents in the area.
Many people, such as Linette Scofield, the owner of the William Henry Miller Inn, have already volunteered to become block captains.
The block captains will be responsible for doing “anything it takes to make the block look more beautiful,” Gardener said.
While a few people present recalled past beautification efforts, they didn’t remember any which had widespread effects. One successful effort mentioned was the array of flowers outside Collegetown Bagels. Encouraging other businesses to take similar initiatives would be a good way to get started.
Joanne Trutko ’75 of the Collegetown Neighborhood Council mentioned that it could be beneficial if “some of the beautification started above the footscape.” She used the example of hanging floral baskets. This would ensure that new plants would not be stepped on. She also suggested that the town could “wrap trees with some sort of wrought iron structure that’s more like New York City.”
In order to help involve students in the revival of Collegetown, Trutko suggested that landscape architects could help develop plans for the beautification initiative.
Niki Sol, the Residence Hall Director of Cascadilla Hall and Sheldon Court, mentioned that her halls are planning a clean-up beautification day in April. A representative from the Pan-Hellenic Association said that sororities and fraternities currently organize an annual community cleanup day and are looking to be involved in a project with more visible, longer lasting effects.
“Even if it’s one day, it makes a difference,” Gardener said. “The more garbage is on the ground, the more people think it’s okay to throw garbage down.”
Denise Cassaro, the assistant director for community center programs, brought up the point that students will be more likely to contribute to the initiative and will find it more satisfying if they can see a longer lasting effect.
“What I wonder is if it can be expanded to more than just a day,” said Mary Beth Grant law ’88, Cornell University’s Judicial Administrator. She brought up the idea of an “adopt-a-block” program which could evolve into a year-round partnership between students and permanent residents.