September 2017 Common Council Meeting

Common Council meets 6pm Wednesday, September 6 at Ithaca City Hall​! Topics will include:

  • A public hearing on the 2018 sidewalk work plan
  • An ordinance to recognize the second Monday of October as “Indigenous Peoples’ Day”
    An update to fire code for addressing food truck safety
  • Reallocation of federal HOME funds from Lakeview to other projects
  • A statement in response to the events in Charlottesville
  • Public street art in intersections during Porchfest
  • Addressing the procedures for handling Council vacancies (Alderperson Martell resigned August 24 and will be sorely missed)

…and plenty more.

The full agenda is here. Watch the meeting here.

Open houses for major roadway improvements

A reminder that this Tuesday and Wednesday the city will be holding open houses for major roadway improvements: University Avenue and W. Martin Luther King Jr. (State) St.

University Avenue

The City of Ithaca will be hosting an open house regarding planned 2018 roadway improvements along University Avenue from Linn Street to Lake Street. All are invited to the Second Floor Conference Room at City Hall (108 E Green Street) on Tuesday, April 11, from 4 PM to 6 PM to provide feedback on several preliminary design alternatives being considered. The 3 design options from the consultant are below.

If you are not able to attend the open house or have questions regarding the project, you may contact the City Engineering office at 607-274-6545 or ehathaway@cityofithaca.org.

West Martin Luther King Jr. St

The City of Ithaca Engineering Office is soliciting public comment on a draft design report for the West Martin Luther King Jr. Street Corridor Enhancements project. The draft design report is posted below.  Written comments can be submitted to Tim Logue at TLogue@cityofithaca.org or mailed or hand delivered to the Engineering Office in City Hall, 108 East Green Street.  Comments will be accepted until April 30, 2017.

City staff and consulting engineers will also host a public open house style meeting for the project on Wednesday, April 12, 2016 from 4pm to 6pm in the second floor conference room of City Hall.  This open house will showcase two alternatives for the corridor that were developed based on the City’s grant application, a business group focus meeting held in December 2015 and a public meeting held in February 2016. A public questionnaire was also circulated that winter.

The study area covers the portion of West Martin Luther King Jr. Street (also known as West State Street or Route 79), from Floral Avenue (Rt 13A) to Taughannock Boulevard.  The proposed goals are to improve pedestrian conditions along the street, to improve options for pedestrians to cross the street, to enhance conditions for bicyclists, and to improve safety along the corridor.

For more information, please contact Tim Logue, Director of Engineering at tlogue@cityofithaca.org or (607) 274-6535.

There are several documents here, but the two alternatives are summarized here

The major differences are (thanks to Fernando de Aragón of Ithaca-Tompkins County Transportation Council for the summary):

  • Alternative 1: Westbound on-street bike lane from Pete’s Grocery to Floral Ave, eastbound concrete-barriered multi-use path (pedestrian and cyclist) from Floral Ave to Mama Teresa’s.
  • Alternative 2: Westbound on-street bike lane from Taughannock Blvd to Floral Ave, eastbound on-street bike lane with expanded sidewalk space from Floral Ave to Mama Teresa’s

Main similarities:

  • One east-bound traffic lane will be removed
  • Landscaping and curb changes will make this dangerous intersection more accessible to everyone

City Boards/Committees Restructuring

Last year Common Council approved the formation of the Boards and Committees Restructuring Working Group, known more colloquially as the “Committee of Committees”, to propose a new structure for the various volunteer boards and committees that advise city staff and Common Council. These boards and committees include the Bicycle / Pedestrian Advisory Council, the Parks Commission, the Rental Housing Advisory Commission, and many others covering a wide range of topics.

The working group was tasked with reducing overlap, addressing issues not covered by existing boards/committees, improving the process, utilizing city resources more efficiently, better flow of ideas to Common Council, and other improvements.

The proposal is public now and you can find it here.

In short, the proposal redistributes 12 boards and committees to four “umbrella” commissions:

  • Mobility and Transportation
  • Community and Quality of Life
  • Parks, Recreation, and Natural Resources
  • Public Safety and Information

Each commission has 7 voting members and a number of non-voting members serving as subject matter experts. Two Common Council liaisons will be appointed to each commission as non-voting members. Each commission will have permanently assigned city administrative and staff support.

There’s a lot more information in the proposal (again, right here). It’s a big change and we expect the public to have strong opinions on the matter. The proposal will be presented to Council on Wednesday, March 29, 2017, at 6:00 p.m. in the Common Council Chambers at City Hall, but there will not be a public comment period during this meeting. You can share your thoughts with us at council@cityofithaca.org, speak during public comment at the April 5 Common Council meeting, or speak at the April 19 City Administration Committee meeting. All meetings are at 6pm at City Hall.

November 2016 Common Council Meeting

Apologies for the late and rather brief agenda review. And I hope you’ll forgive me for not putting out an agenda summary at all last month.

Ithaca’s Common Council meets Wednesday, November 2 at 6pm in Council Chambers at City Hall (108 E. Green Street). Go here to find the full agenda. You can watch us online live here (note the new site) or visit us in person and speak during the public comment period.

A summary of the agenda follows.

Consent Agenda
A consent agenda packages routine and non-controversial items not requiring discussion or independent action as one agenda item. On this list are:

  • acceptance of funds from Park Foundation for lighting at Wood Street Skate Park
  • update the Ithaca Youth Bureau budget to reflect grants received
  • funds for litigation and legal fees
  • Civil Service agreement with Ithaca City School District

City Administration Committee
This committee reviews financial and administrative issues pertaining to the city, including workforce environment, inter-governmental relations, and human resources. Items coming out of last month’s CA meeting include:

  • Budget – Read all about the proposed 2017 budget here. It’s fairly free of drama, reflecting steady city finances.
  • Tax rate – This provides the revenue to be spent in the aforementioned budget.
  • Ithaca Area Wastewater Treatment Plant budget
  • Sidewalk Improvement District budget and work plan

Planning and Economic Development Committee
This committee addresses city planning, housing, land use, zoning, historic preservation, and items pertaining to economic development in the city. Coming from this committee are:

  • Acceptance of grant funds to support Ithaca Neighborhood Housing Services (INHS) renovations and improvements to 98 units in 44 buildings in the City of Ithaca
  • Maguire. Most everyone I’ve talked to has been following this. From Seph’s latest newsletter:
     
    As I’m sure everyone is aware by now, Maguire, the local car company, wants to build a car dealership at Carpenter Business Park (off 3rd street near the Farmer’s Market, Community Gardens, and Wastewater Treatment plant.)
     
    Earlier this year the Common Council passed legislation that would require any proposed development in the waterfront to get approval from Common Council for a period of 18 months while the City works on new zoning for the area. Developers must submit an application that is reviewed by Council before they can proceed with the project.
     
    Maguire is going through that process right now. (You can find their application here). Earlier this month, they came to the Planning Committee of Common Council, which voted to reject their current proposal.
  • Redefine “mezzanine” and “story” in the City’s Zoning and Housing Standards Code to eliminate ambiguities
  • An endorsement of Citizens’ Climate Lobby’s proposal for a carbon fee and dividend

 

2nd ward news – October 2016

2nd ward news – October 2016

I spot the hills
With yellow balls in autumn.
I light the prairie cornfields
Orange and tawny gold clusters
And I am called pumpkins.
On the last of October
When dusk is fallen
Children join hands
And circle round me
Singing ghost songs
And love to the harvest moon;
I am a jack-o’-lantern
With terrible teeth
And the children know
I am fooling.

  • Carl Sandburg, “Theme in Yellow”

 

Happy Halloween! If you were in downtown Ithaca over the weekend, you might have noticed some, err, odd things happening. Wizard duels, quidditch matches, and lots of creative costumes. We take our festivals pretty seriously here in Ithaca, and Wizarding Weekend is one of the best. Hope everyone had a great time. Now on to non-Harry Potter news:

Election 2016

If you’re like me, you’re probably thinking that November 8th cannot come fast enough. The Presidential race is getting most of the attention, but there are some critical local races to watch out for too. Here’s a great overview of all the races you can vote for in the general election in Tompkins County. You can check the Board of Elections website for polling times and locations. Don’t forget to vote!

The Budget

October is always a busy time for Common Council because it’s the month we review the city budget for the following year. Compared to a few years ago, the 2017 budget is relatively drama-free, a sign that the city’s overall financial health is improving. You can find information about the Mayor’s proposed 2017 budget on this webpage, including a reader-friendly overview of the highlights. If you have any questions about the budget, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Maguire TMPUD application

As I’m sure everyone is aware by now, Maguire, the local car company, wants to build a car dealership at Carpenter Business Park (off 3rd street near the Farmer’s Market, Community Gardens, and Wastewater Treatment plant.)

Earlier this year the Common Council passed legislation that would require any proposed development in the waterfront to get approval from Common Council for a period of 18 months while the City works on new zoning for the area. Developers must submit an application that is reviewed by Council before they can proceed with the project.

Maguire is going through that process right now. (You can find their application here). Earlier this month, they came to the Planning Committee of Common Council, which voted to reject their current proposal. Now that recommendation advances to the full Common Council: our next Council meeting is on Wednesday, November 2nd at 6pm in Common Council chambers. Here’s the agenda. If you have any thoughts on the Maguire project, please get in touch!

Water Bills

Several people have asked me whether they can be reimbursed for increases in their water bills due to excessive flushing that happened as a result of discolored water situation over the summer. Good news: the Board of Public Works has developed a reimbursement plan for eligible customers. More here.

Odd/Even Parking

Heads up Ithaca! It’s that time of year again. Odd/even parking regulations go into effect November 1st. More info here.

New Jim Crow Community Read

The Multicultural Resource Center is hosting a community read of Michelle Alexander’s groundbreaking book the New Jim Crow. So far, community events have been really well attended. Here’s more info about upcoming events and book clubs.

Old Library Project

This has been a process, to put it mildly. The County has selected their preferred developer for the Old Library site, Travis/Hyde, and the developers are proposing a new building that would include market-rate housing for seniors and professional office space. The project is in the Dewitt Park historic district, so it needs to get approval from the Ithaca Landmarks Preservation Commission. The ILPC’s review has been quite lengthy and they have pushed to make the building smaller. Here’s a write up from the Ithaca Times. This project will be coming back to the ILPC in the next month or two.

That’s about it for October folks. See you next month!

Seph

September 2016 Planning and Economic Development Committee Meeting

I’ll be chairing the September 2016 meeting of the Planning and Economic Development Committee of Common Council this Wednesday, September 14th, at 6pm in Council Chambers. The big thing on the agenda is the Maguire proposal. Here’s a link to the agenda. A quick run down of the meeting:

Voting to send on to October Council meeting (Wednesday, October 5, 2016 at 6pm in Council Chambers):

  • Art in Glow mural – Ithaca loves public art. This is a proposal for a glow in the dark mural featuring a dandelion and the Ithaca festival slogan, to be installed on the surface of the Cayuga Waterfront Trail. Groovy stuff!
  • Fall Creek Block Party, Neighborhood Improvement Incentive Fund -Neighborhood groups around the city can get reimbursed for community events, like block parties. In this case, we’ll be refunding the costs for a block party in Fall Creek. This is approved at the committee level, so it won’t go on to Council.
  • Restore NY Grant Resolution – New York State has a grant program aimed at revitalizing urban centers. We have to choose between two proposals recommended to us by the Ithaca Urban Renewal Agency. See the agenda for more info.

Special Order of Business:

  • Public Hearing: Maguire TMPUD Application – public hearing on the Maguire project (see below).

Discussion (with possible action):

  • Maguire TMPUD Application – Maguire, the local car company, has submitted a plan to the city to build an auto dealership on Carpenter Business Park, next to the community gardens on Route 13. The plan requires Common Council approval, however. Earlier this year, the Council passed a “temporary mandatory planned unit development” district for the Waterfront area that basically requires any development happening in the Waterfront area to come to Common Council for approval. We did this because we are in the midst of a comprehensive planning process for the Waterfront and we want future development there to fit with our land-use goals. We are continuing our discussion of the Maguire project. The committee could decide to vote to send a recommendation to Common Council, or we could decide that we need more deliberation. See the agenda packet for more info. You can also view Maguire’s application at this link.

Again, here’s the link to the agenda. You can watch a live stream of the meeting here. As always, if you have any questions, comments, or concerns, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us! Thanks! – Seph

September 2016 Common Council

Ithaca’s Common Council meets Wednesday, September 7 at 6pm in Council Chambers at City Hall (108 E. Green Street). Go here to find the full agenda. You can watch us online live here or visit us in person and speak during the public comment period.

A summary of the agenda follows.

Consent Agenda
A consent agenda packages routine and non-controversial items not requiring discussion or independent action as one agenda item. On this list are:

  • acceptance of funds from Park Foundation and Smart Growth and Livable Communities for a project entitled “Building for Energy Efficiency: Developing New Construction Standards for Ithaca,” to conduct a comprehensive, collaborative examination of policy tools that Ithaca can use to incentivize or mandate green building standards for new construction
  • giving Housing Inspector Gary Checksfield the new title of Housing Code Supervisor
  • giving Code Inspector Mary Brenner the new title of Senior Code Inspector
  • approving the City of Ithaca Cable Access Oversight Committee’s budget recommendation for upgrading the PEGASYS (public access channels) studio to high definition

City Administration Committee
This committee reviews financial and administrative issues pertaining to the city, including workforce environment, inter-governmental relations, and human resources. Items coming out of last month’s CA meeting include:

  • approval of a capital project to resurface a portion of Route 13 and replacing two traffic lights on that road
  • approval of a capital project to repair or replace the retaining wall in the 400 block of East State (Martin Luther King, Jr.) Street; this is the wall by Gateway Commons, where The History Center is located
  • approval of a capital project to expand the Alex Haley Municipal Wading Pool (near GIAC)

Committee of the Whole
A committee of the whole, as you may have guessed, is a committee of Common Council comprising all members of Council. A Committee of the Whole was convened to use funds from an existing capital project to evaluate:

  • the feasibility, costs, and benefits of consolidating City Hall, Fire Station #9, Central Fire Station, and the Police Department, into one central campus to be located at the current location of the Central Fire Station
  • the possible consolidation of Water & Sewer and Streets & Facilities to one central facility

You can read more about this at The Ithaca Voice.

Planning and Economic Development Committee
This committee addresses city planning, housing, land use, zoning, historic preservation, and items pertaining to economic development in the city.

There’s just one item from the Planning and Economic Development committee this month: Adding diversity requirements for beneficiaries of the Community Investment Incentive Abatement Program (CIITAP) program. This would require that developers receiving a tax abatement join the Diversity Consortium of Tompkins County, establish strategies for improving diversity, report on progress and demographics, and more. You can read more about this at The Ithaca Voice.

Individual Member-Filed Resolutions
Members of Common Council can file their own resolutions. These two are the first we’ve seen this year:

  • Alderperson Brock – Resolution in support of the Equal Access to Abortion Coverage in Health Insurance (EACH) Woman Act, which would ensure that every woman who receives care or insurance through the federal government will have coverage for abortion services and prohibits political interference with decisions by private health insurance companies to offer coverage for abortion care.
  • Alderperson Gearhart – Resolution to select artwork for a painted intersection at Auburn, W. Lewis, and Adams Streets:
    Screen Shot 2016-09-06 at 11.13.35 PM

2nd ward news – August 2016

2nd WARD NEWS – AUGUST 2016

I have a dream
to fill the golden sheath
of a remembered day….
(Air
heavy and massed and blue
as the vapor of opium…
domes
fired in sulphorous mist…
sea
quiescent as a gray seal…
and the emerging sun
spurting up gold
over Sydney, smoke-pale, rising out of the bay….)
But the day is an up-turned cup
and its sun a junk of red iron
guttering in sluggish-green water
where shall I pour my dream?

– Lola Ridge, “The Dream”

Hello Second Warders. I’ll be honest, I picked this poem because of the reference to sluggish-green water. Seemed appropriate….

WATER WOES

As I’m sure you’re aware, we’ve been having some water issues this summer. First the drought, which drew down our water supply to critical levels, and second, discolored water. Thankfully, both problems seem to be improving. We’ve gotten some rain that has helped refill the reservoir, and the city has been making progress on the discolored water issue.

The City recently released a statement explaining what went wrong and how we’ve been responding, which I’m copying below. As you’ll see, the City has violated two NYS drinking water standards – one for the mineral manganese, and one for cloudiness – and we’re required by law to notify the public. It’s worth noting that these are the lowest levels of violation. The County Health Department has been involved in all of these conversations from the beginning and there is no health threat reported at this time, nor from limited exposure to the higher levels of manganese.

I want to thank everyone for your patience this summer while we dealt with this problem. I had the brown water myself, and it was really nasty. Just as with any complex system, it took time to diagnose the problem and come up with an effective solution, but the problem does seem to be fixed. Here’s the City’s statement:

“Beginning sometime in late-June of this year, customers of the City of Ithaca drinking water supply system started reporting that their water was discolored. After suggesting several possible reasons for the discolored water and trying several solutions, the City has determined that the cause of the discoloration was high levels of manganese, and the problem is successfully being addressed.

Manganese is present in high concentrations in the earth and in sediments in the reservoir. It dissolves into the water, especially when it gets warm or when there is little rain. Dissolved manganese has no color, but when chlorine is added to water with high levels of manganese, the manganese solidifies and the water turns color, at first yellow and eventually brown.

It takes time for this to occur, so even though the water was clear or mostly clear at the water plant, it turned brown while it was in the water mains that carry water throughout the city. The manganese can solidify so much that it forms flakes that look like rust.

The City’s water treatment plant cannot remove manganese when it is dissolved, so the City started adding a chemical oxidant to the intake pipe at the reservoir to make the manganese solidify before it reaches the water plant. At first not enough of the oxidant was added and most of the dissolved manganese was still getting through. But by early August the right amount of oxidant was being added, and most of the manganese was solidifying early and being removed by the treatment plant. At that point, the reports of brown water almost completely stopped.

Since early July, the City has taken weekly samples from several locations throughout the water system. These samples are tested for several things, including the concentration of manganese and turbidity (cloudiness) of the water. The tests for manganese have to be sent to a private lab, and because the lab is very busy, it has taken four or more weeks to get back some of the results.

On July 11 the manganese concentration at the water plant was 0.59 milligrams per liter, and on July 19 it was 0.98 milligrams per liter. Both readings are above the maximum concentration limit for New York of 0.3 milligrams per liter. This is classified as a “Tier 3” violation, which is the least serious and requires that the public be notified within 12 months, typically as part of the annual water quality report.

Other samples taken on those same days at other locations in the water system all showed concentrations below 0.3 milligrams per liter. This indicates that the concentration that most water users were getting at their taps was lower than what was recorded at the water plant.

The City received results from more recent samples taken on August 16 (after reports of brown water had subsided), which showed so little manganese leaving the water plant that it was below detectable limits, and the levels of manganese throughout the water system met state water quality standards. The most recent results were expedited, but the City is still awaiting the results of additional tests taken before August 16. The City expects that those tests may also show elevated levels of manganese, because they were taken before the manganese was effectively being removed at the water plant.

Tests for turbidity (cloudiness) of the water showed that for the month of July the average turbidity at the water plant holding tanks was above the water quality limit. This was not unexpected given the discoloration that was being reported. However, it is considered a “Tier 2” water quality standard violation, one that requires water users be notified within 30 days.

Turbidity is regulated because it can be associated with bacteria and other microbes. However, the City monitors bacteria levels closely, and none of the 30 tests taken each month by the water department has shown any microbial contamination of the water supply.

The City worked with the County Health Department to develop a combined official notice of both violations. That notice is now available on the City’s website.

To prevent similar problems in the future, the City will maintain and operate a permanent system for adding the chemical oxidant at the reservoir. The City will monitor water temperature and stream flow and will use these to signal the right time to take manganese samples from the raw water and to begin adding the oxidant to help remove the manganese.

Cloudy and discolored water can also be caused by events such as water main breaks, like the one on August 17 when a large water main broke near Wegmans and caused brown water throughout the City system. Much of the brown color was likely the manganese that had settled to the bottom of the pipes over the previous month.

The water main has been repaired and most of the system has been flushed. However, pockets of discolored water can sometimes linger in the system. If you experience discolored water at your tap, please notify the water and sewer department at 272-1717 during business hours or 273-4680 after hours, and someone will come to flush the hydrants near your address.

If you have questions about the information contained in this summary, please contact Chief of Staff Dan Cogan at 607-274-6512 or at dcogan@cityofithaca.org.”

PROPOSED MAGUIRE CAR DEALERSHIP

Earlier this year, the Common Council passed legislation that would require any proposed development in the waterfront to get approval from Common Council for a period of 18 months while the City works on new zoning for that area. Developers must submit an application that is reviewed by Council before they can proceed with a project.

Maguire, the local car company, is going through that process right now. They’ve submitted an application for a Ford Lincoln Nissan car dealership to be located at Carpenter Business Park (off 3rd Street near the Farmer’s Market, Community Gardens, and Wastewater Treatment Plant. You can find that application here (72 MB download): http://www.cityofithaca.org/DocumentCenter/View/4937

In accordance with the application process, the project team will present information about the project and answer questions from the public at a public information session on Wednesday, August 31, 2016, at 6:00 PM in Common Council Chambers, Third Floor, City Hall, 108 E. Green Street, Ithaca.

Following that, a public hearing will be held at the September 14, 2016 meeting of the Planning and Economic Development Committee, also at 6:00 PM in Common Council Chambers.

This is a big project, and we’d really like to hear from the community on this one. So I hope to see you at one or both meetings.

210 HANCOCK UPDATE

Yikes, those piles. I realize this is not a fun time to be living in the vicinity of 210 Hancock Street. INHS is working to complete this portion of the work as quickly as possible to limit the impact on neighbors. They expect the work to be complete by September 1st barring unforeseen issues.

Noise has been an issue, but also vibration in the ground and in people’s homes. INHS notes that vibration can be felt at levels that are much lower than would cause even cosmetic building damage. INHS has seismometers for monitoring vibration in place, and they are checking them regularly. These monitors will notify their engineer if construction activity causes vibration to rise to a level of concern. If issues arise, you can contact either Joe Bowes at 277-4500×204 or Scott Reynolds at 277-4500×217. Also, please continue to check the www.210Hancock.org website for construction updates.

SIMEON’S REOPENING

Simeon’s is back, and it’s gorgeous. If you haven’t had a chance to stop by and take a look inside, you should. It’s two floors, with a really nice new bar, and an open, roomy feel. The Ithaca Journal took some photos. Congrats to the owners for bouncing back from such a tragic, devastating accident. They did an amazing job on the rebuild. 

NEW LEADERSHIP AT SOUTHSIDE COMMUNITY CENTER

Southside Community Center has announced new leadership: director Leon Lawrence and deputy director Thia Harriett. The Ithaca Journal has a great article about their vision for Southside. You might recall that a proposal was floated earlier this year to merge Southside Community Center with the City of Ithaca. Ultimately, the Southside board decided against that proposal. Here’s wishing the new leaders the best of luck in their new roles!

UPCOMING EVENTS

Here are some upcoming events that might be of interest to 2nd ward folks. If I’ve missed anything, I do apologize!

*CODE: Debugging the Gender Gap – a screening that Ducson is helping to organize, Tuesday 8/30 from 6:30-8:30pm at Cinemapolis. The documentary CODE exposes the dearth of female and minority software engineers and explores the reasons for this gender gap and digital divide. The screening will be followed by a panel discussion of local women in tech, including Singlebrook Technology co-founder (and 2nd ward resident) Elisa Miller-Out to discuss their experiences in a very male-dominated industry. The event is generously co-sponsored by Quinn Energy and theMulticultural Resource Center, two women-led organizations right in downtown Ithaca. You can reserve tickets here or buy them at Cinemapolis the day of the event: https://www.tugg.com/events/117374

*Labor Day Picnic – The Tompkins County Workers’ Center and the Midstate Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO, will hold the 33rd Annual Labor Day Picnic from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Monday, September 5th, in Ithaca’s Stewart Park. This year’s picnic theme is “Labor Rights Are Civil Rights”. This year’s program will include the music of Black Lives Matter – Ithaca Organizer, Sammus, an Ithaca-based rap artist and producer; along with Featured Guest Speaker, and Black Lives Matter – Ithaca Organizer, Professor Russell Rickford, speaking on the links between economic justice and the Movement for Black Lives, as well as local activist folk singer, Colleen Kattau (Gringa Grooves from the Heart). The picnic is free and everyone is invited. Everyone is asked to bring a dish to share and to enjoy the free burgers (meat and veggie), hot dogs, ice cream and beverages. For more information, contact the Workers’ Center at TCWRH@tcworkerscenter.org, 607-269-0409, or via the website, www.TCWorkersCenter.org

*Porchfest – one of my favorite Ithaca festivals: for one day, you can wander around and listen to musical performances on porches throughout the Fall Creek and Northside neighborhoods. The tenth Porchfest (yes tenth, believe it or not) will be held on Sunday, September 18th, 2016. Save the date! More info here.

*New Jim Crow Community Read Kickoff – a group of local organizations (including the City of Ithaca) are sponsoring a community read of the book The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander. This is the definitive academic/legal account of the contemporary system of mass incarceration. The kickoff for the community read will be taking place on Monday, September 19th from 5:30-8pm at the Space @ Greenstar, 700 West Buffalo Street. Refreshments and childcare will be provided. Books will be distributed. There will also be an announcement of upcoming events. More info here.

*Streets Alive Southside – Streets Alive is coming back to Southside on Sunday, September 25th, 1-5pm. South Plain and West Clinton Streets will be open to people and closed to cars for another fun Sunday afternoon in September. Anticipated new highlights include grooving through the streets with the Fall Creek Brass Band, jumping with internationally renowned jump-ropers, connecting to the Ithaca ReUse Center, and rolling on a newly paved Plain Street. Plus there’ll be the regular and wonderful bike rodeo and bike mechanics, great neighbors to meet, street art, and more.

That’s about it for August folks. Until next month,

Seph

 

August 2016 Planning and Economic Development Committee meeting

I’ll be chairing the August 2016 meeting of the Planning and Economic Development Committee this Wednesday, August 10th, at 6pm in Council Chambers. Here’s the agenda. A quick rundown:

Announcements, Updates, Reports

  • We’ll be getting three updates: 1) Collegetown construction, 2) design guidelines for Collegetown and Downtown, and 3) water issues.

Voting to send on to September Council meeting (Wednesday, September 7, 2016 at 6pm in Council Chambers):

  • Neighborhood Improvement Incentive Fund – neighborhood groups around the city can get reimbursed for community events, like block parties. In this case, we’ll be refunding Ithaca Housing Authority for costs related to two National Night Out events that were held in Northside and South of the Creek recently. This is approved at the committee level, so it won’t go on to Council.
  • Community Investment Incentive Tax Abatement Program (CIITAP) – Diversity Requirements – this is part of our continuing effort to reform the City’s tax abatement policy. With input from the city’s Workforce Diversity Advisory Committee, we are working to reform the city’s tax abatement policy to include requirements for the hiring of a more diverse workforce. See agenda packet for more info.

Voting to “circulate” (basically this means that we send a proposal out to the public for feedback; the proposal will come back to the committee next month for further consideration):

  • Maguire TMPUD application
    Maguire, the local car company, has submitted a plan to the city to build an auto dealership on Carpenter Business Park, next to the community gardens on Route 13. The plan requires Common Council approval, however. Earlier this year, the Council passed a “temporary mandatory planned unit development” district for the Waterfront area that basically requires any development happening in the Waterfront area to come to Common Council for approval. We did this because we are in the midst of a comprehensive planning process for the Waterfront and we want future development there to fit with our land-use goals. This is our first discussion of the Maguire project. If the committee approves, we will circulate the proposal for more feedback and it will come back to the committee next month for a public hearing and further discussion. See the agenda packet for more info.

Again, here’s the link to the agenda. You can watch a live stream of the meeting here. As always, if you have any questions, comments, or concerns, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us! Thanks! – Seph

July 2016 Common Council

Ithaca’s Common Council meets Wednesday, July 6 at 6pm in Council Chambers at City Hall (108 E. Green Street). Go here to find the full agenda. You can watch us online live here or visit us in person and speak during the public comment period.

A summary of the agenda follows.

Consent Agenda
A consent agenda packages routine and non-controversial items not requiring discussion or independent action as one agenda item. On this list are:

  • allowing Simeon’s (reopening soon!) and Mia to serve alcohol outdoors
  • amending the police department budget to account for SWAT training IPD hosted
  • approval to display names of donors to Cass Park Ice Rink’s renovations
  • easement for Chapter House reconstruction for installation of footers and awnings

City Administration Committee
This committee reviews financial and administrative issues pertaining to the city, including workforce environment, inter-governmental relations, and human resources. Items coming out of last month’s CA meeting include:

  • Modification of a $455,000 capital project for repair and refurbish of a pumper truck to increase funding to $555,000 and instead purchase a new pumper truck
  • Creation of a “capital project” (structure under which infrastructure projects are funded) from a NYSERDA grant to study feasibility of a nodal microgrid in the City
  • Labor contracts with city employees
  • Update on the request for proposals for the law enforcement consolidation study (an update was given to the Tompkins County legislature recently as well)

Planning and Economic Development Committee
This committee addresses city planning, housing, land use, zoning, historic preservation, and items pertaining to economic development in the city.

Just one item out of the Planning and Economic Development committee this month: an administrative change to the city’s agreement with the Ithaca Urban Renewal Agency that will free up some time for IURA staff to develop a housing strategy for the City of Ithaca. More info in the packet.