September 7, 2017

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: On the hazardous Ezra’s Tunnel

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To the editor:

The Sun’s Aug. 31 article, “Common Council Debates Closing Ezra’s Tunnel” called attention to an important issue, although a few points need fleshing out:

* There is not “extensive” warning signage near Willard Way nor on the uneven, rock-strewn walk to Ezra’s Tunnel. In fact, when I was there last Friday afternoon there are no signs whatsoever. Cornell is grateful that the City plans to place new signage in the vicinity with key messages, which we hope will make clear that people have drowned in Fall Creek gorge due to strong undercurrents, that swimming is prohibited and that violators may be subject to arrest.

* In the article and on other platforms, the preservation and access of “natural areas” and the “look of the area” are referenced as concerns about potentially limiting access to Ezra’s Tunnel. It is important to remember, however, that this is a former industrial site that is now undeveloped, littered and a hazard. The tunnel itself was cut by drilling and blasting in order to serve paper companies and later the Ithaca Gun Company. The tunnel is not a bucolic natural resource, but rather a very dangerous relic. On a campus and in a community where safely-accessed and beautiful natural areas are the norm, there is no reason for anyone to take this risk,

* Finally, for those who enjoy swimming and relaxing in natural areas with waterfalls and safe hiking, Gov. Cuomo announced last week that Robert H. Treman and a handful of other state parks will have extended operating hours this month, 11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Sept. 9, 10, 16 and 17. We encourage your readers to check out these local treasures.

Gary Stewart,
associate vice president for community relations
Cornell University