November 14, 2011

Ithaca Solicits Input for New City-Wide Plan

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For the first time in 40 years, Ithaca will craft a comprehensive city plan that aims to tackle all the key development issues facing the city. Phase one began Monday night.More than one hundred local citizens, Common Council members and other city representatives gathered in the gymnasium of the Greater Ithaca Activities Center to present their sometimes competing visions for the city’s future.Roger Waldon, a planning consultant from real estate consulting firm Clarion Associates, began the workshop by presenting several broad themes, including the city’s economic vitality, affordable housing and environmental sustainability. He added that the meeting was a chance to bring all of Ithaca’s concerns together and set a stage before drafting a comprehensive plan.“A key objective was to find out what was on people’s minds. It wouldn’t work to have people come up one by one to a microphone,” Waldon said. Instead, facilitators led each table in small group discussions while recording their opinions on which problems seemed most important.City maps demarcating Ithaca’s many distinct regions, such as Fall Creek and South Hill, were distributed to each participant. Waldon encouraged people to consider all of Ithaca’s regions in their discussions. “There was a lot of discussion about the need to protect the qualities that give Ithaca its special quality while understanding that there also needs to be growth in the city,” said John Schroeder ’74, the chair of the Planning and Development Board and The Sun’s production manager, who participated in the discussions.Waldon said the purpose of the meeting was not to start constructing the plan, but to gather preliminary “guiding principles that reflect community values and community aspirations for the future.” At the end of the workshop, participants submitted comment forms based on their discussions, which project workers will use to discern the chief objectives for the plan. Community input will continue into next year as part of the initial phase of the project. “This first phase should guide everything that follows as a vision of where the city should head in upcoming decades. As funds allow, the future second phase will target certain areas of the city, like downtown or Collegetown,” Schroeder said.“We’re really happy with the turnout. Public input is so important at this stage of planning,” said Megan Wilson, one of the organizers of the project. “This has been a project long overdue.”

Original Author: Dennis Liu