Ming DeMers/Sun Staff Photographer

The Ithaca Preservation Committee approved a proposal to add lights along the Cornell Arts Quad to increase pedestrian safety.

January 24, 2023

Ithaca’s Landmark Preservation Committee Discusses Arts Quad Improvements in Monthly Meeting

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On Tuesday, Jan. 17, the Ithaca Preservation Committee held their first meeting of the year to discuss improved lighting on Cornell’s Arts Quad, the enclosure of a porch at 711 East Seneca St. and the expansion of the Argos Inn. 

David Cutter, Cornell University’s landscape architect, brought forth the proposal to increase pedestrian lighting for the Arts Quad, which is currently lit by building-mounted lights and minimal light leakage from the surrounding buildings. Citing concerns of nighttime pedestrian safety, Cutter proposed installing lights along the preexisting emergency and fire access roads and walkways. 

Matching the current Gothic features around the arts quad and campus, the lights will be black-finished poles and fixtures with 3000K LED lights providing a warm, yellow glow. The committee was slightly apprehensive to disturb the historic nature of the arts quad and wanted to confirm that the lights would not be a permanent fixture. Cutter explained that the proposed structures will feature bases secured into the ground and fixtures bolted on top, making them reversible if necessary.

With the chance to improve safety and no clear concerns, the committee approved the proposal in a unanimous decision. The improvements will be funded by the University, which looks to begin installing them later this year.

“We don’t necessarily know how much funding we’re going to have available to do it,” Cutter said. “It may be a couple of phases if we don’t have all the money at once, but this summer would probably be the first phase of lighting going in.”

Next on the agenda was a proposal by Michael Barnoski, partner architect at Trade Design Build, and Charlie O’Connor, co-founder of Modern Living Rentals, to enclose the front porch on 711 East Seneca St. and turn it into bedrooms. The house — constructed in the late 1800s by Edward Green, who worked under William Henry Miller at the time — is classified as a historic property. 

Barnoski and O’Connor proposed keeping the existing railing details intact and using glider windows to infill behind them. Modeling after the infill of Miller’s Sage House back entrance, Barnoski and O’Connor were hoping to turn the 10-bedroom house into a 14-bedroom house while maintaining historic integrity. 

This same proposal was brought forth last month, but the vote was tabled for board members to continue deliberations. After the second presentation, the board remained hesitant, citing reasons of ruined porch integrity, unsalvageable original materials, small and dark bedrooms and the possibility of setting a precedent for future proposals. 

Ultimately denying the current proposal, the board gave Barnoski and O’Connor the option to bring forth an alternative proposal during the next meeting in February. The third proposal of the meeting was presented by Robert Morache and Craig Modisher, both project managers for STREAM Collaborative, asking to expand the Argos Inn. The proposal was approved in a unanimous vote.