October 16, 2007

Trail to Be Built Along Cayuga Lake

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Cayuga Lake, one of Ithaca’s noted attractions, may soon be a little easier to visit as the City of Ithaca is building a waterfront trail along its southern end. The trail is being built in three phases: phase one was completed in 2002, but phase two has faced delays as it entails crossing the property of local residents and Cornell Uni­versity.
The original path of the trail brought it close to the John Collyer Boat House, home to Cornell’s crew teams.
“We’ve been working closely with the designers and the City,” said University Planner Mina Amundsen.
According to Amundsen, negotiations have been progressing smoothly, and the trail will not interfere with the rowing teams.
Anita Brenner, associate athletic director and administrator of the rowing teams, agreed that the trail would not pose a problem for Cornell.
“Cornell has been quite supportive of the City and this waterfront trail all along. The question for us is the trail’s position on our property, so we can all live there in harmony,” Brenner said,
The trail, however, goes through six or seven properties besides Cornell’s and not all of the landowners are as satisfied with the City’s negotiations. Earlier, there was the threat of eminent domain being used by the City to build on private property.
According to the website of the Cayuga Waterfront Trail Initative, the City is not using eminent domain to acquire needed easements. The City is now negotiating with landowners, and using eminent domain will be a last resort.
Two landowners whose businesses will be affected by the trail are Angelo DiGiacomo of Instant Printing Service and Robert Andree of Andree Petroleum. Both individuals felt so strongly about the issue that they created a website detailing their side of it.
Andree still has concerns about eminent domain and a few other issues. He is against removing one of three travel lanes on a bridge over the Flood Control Canal, which is proposed in the plan for the trail. Also, the trail passes close to his fuel and propane storage facility.
“It is unsafe and unattractive to have the trail come through an industrial area,” Andree said.
According to Rick Manning, coordinator of CWTI, the second phase of construction has not started as Ithaca continues to negotiate with landowners. He hopes that with time the City and landowners can come to an agreement.
“Negotiations are slowly moving along to give people the opportunity to speak their mind and work things out,” he said.
In the meantime, design work will continue on phase three, which will connect the Ithaca Farmers’ Market to Stewart Park and the Tompkins County Visitors Center. If construction stays on schedule, phase three should be completed in 2009.
Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-N.Y.) secured $960,000 in funding for phase three from the 2006 Federal Transportation Bill. Ithaca and CWTI will have to match 20 percent of the funds.
The trail is for non-motorized transportation only. According to CWTI’s website, it was first proposed in 1997 to increase access to the waterfront, promote active living and improve public health, promote tourism, create a new transportation way, support waterfront economic development and enhance the quality of life of Ithaca residents.
The trail will be easily accessible year-round and will be plowed in the winter. Phase one, which loops around Cass Park, is a ten-foot wide asphalt trail surrounded by benches, scenic overlooks, interpretive signs and decorative paving.
When complete, the trail will be six miles long and will connect Cass Park, Inlet Island, the West End, the Farmers’ Market, Newman Golf Course, Stewart Park, the Youth Bureau and the Tompkins County Visitors’ Center.