April 9, 2008

Collegetown Vision Implementation Committee Reviews Draft of Master Plan Ideas

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The Collegetown Vision Implementation Committee has gotten used to thinking about the future. At its meeting yesterday in the basement of St. Luke’s Church, the group went over a draft of potential ideas for the Collegetown Master Plan that consulting firm Goody Clancy had prepared.
Following their last visit to Cornell at the beginning of March, the consultants drew up specific recommendations for the neighborhood that were separated by region in order to work within the atmosphere of each.
One suggestion that spurred much discussion among those in attendance was the idea to turn the area near the corner of Dryden Ave. and Linden Ave. into primarily graduate student housing.
“It’s hard to get graduate students to live on Linden,” said Josh Lower, a Collegetown landlord, adding that graduate students aren’t willing to pay as high rents as undergraduates because their parents aren’t footing the bill anymore.
Student Trustee Kate Duch ’09, who has been working on these issues, added that a few hundred undergraduates live in that section of Collegetown right now. In order to accommodate moving them to a different part of the neighborhood, developers would need to build bigger high-rises. This brought the participants to question what Cornell would do to house these students, but Svante Myrick ’09 (D-4th Ward) said that on-campus housing could not replace the Collegetown experience for undergrads.
He also added that taking students out of the neighborhood could be, “a threat to commercial activity in Collegetown.”
Stephen Golding, executive vice president for finance and administration, urged others at the meeting to look for creative solutions.
“It’s a bunch of public policy tradeoffs,” he said.
Among a number of suggestions, he came up with what he called an outlandish idea to get rid of all cars in Collegetown.
Another topic on the docket was the idea of creating ceremonial gateways into Cornell on College Ave. and Eddy St. Matthys Van Cort, former director of planning and development and a current consultant for the CVIC, felt strongly about the need to create a more welcoming urban entryway through Collegetown.
“You’re talking about a student from 88th St. in New York City who’s graduating from Bronx Science and who drives three hours through the woods and then the orchard,” Van Cort said. “If he comes to the back side of the campus, what would he say?”
All of these issues will be discussed when Goody Clancy comes back to formally present their work to the public. The meeting is currently scheduled for April 22nd, but may be changed to allow the committee more time to look over the consultants work beforehand.