2nd ward news – March 2016

2nd WARD NEWS – MARCH 2016

Blue through the window burns the twilight;
Heavy, through the trees, blows the warm south wind.
Glistening, against the chill, gray sky light,
Wet, black branches are barred and entwined.

Sodden and spongy, the scarce-green grass plot
Dents into pools where a foot has been.
Puddles lie spilt in the road a mass, not
Of water, but steel, with its cold, hard sheen.

Faint fades the fire on the hearth, its embers
Scattering wide at a stronger gust.
Above, the weathercock groans, but remembers
Creaking, to turn, in its centuried rust.

Dying, forlorn, in dreary sorrow,
Wrapping the mists round her withering form,
Day sinks down; and in darkness to-morrow
Travails to birth in the womb of the storm.

— Amy Lowell, “March Evening”

Hello 2nd warders – hope your March went well! Spring is here at last. Not a huge amount to report this month. The Planning and Economic Development committee of Common Council, where Ducson and I both serve, had a pretty busy agenda in March. You’ll find a summary of those issues below, as well as some news about a few community projects. If you have any feedback, don’t hesitate to get in touch!

INCENTIVE ZONING FOR AFFORDABLE HOUSING

As we all know, housing affordability is a really serious issue in Ithaca. It affects all income levels, but it is particularly bad for workers who earn less than median income. In order to combat the shortage of affordable housing, we’re proposing the creation of a new tool called “incentive zoning” to try to encourage the inclusion of affordable housing units in new residential and mixed-use developments in the city.

Under this proposal, developers who are building new housing in the city could take advantage of certain incentives, such as an additional floor of height, elimination of minimum parking requirements, or an expedited site plan review process, in exchange for including a certain number of affordable housing units in their project. Developers could also take advantage of the incentives by providing affordable units off-site, converting existing market-rate housing into affordable units, or paying a cash-in-lieu fee to fund affordable housing development. You can read the circulation memo and draft ordinance here.

PROHIBITING FEEDING OF WATERFOWL

To put it plainly, we have a lot of goose poop in our parks. A working group chaired by Alderperson Josephine Martell and involving many stakeholders proposed a geese management plan that includes egg oiling, hazing, and implementing a no-feeding ordinance. It’s the prohibition against feeding geese that’s being circulated. The ordinance points out that feeding encourages geese to congregate in areas where people use parks and decreases fear of humans. Some bird enthusiasts consider human interaction a positive way to increase interest in protecting wildlife. You can read the circulation memo and the proposed ordinance.

BACKYARD CHICKENS

If you’ve followed this newsletter, you know that we’re considering a two-year pilot program that would allow backyard chickens to be kept at 20 residences within the city. You’ve seen this ordinance before, but there are a few notable changes from the last time it was circulated:

  • A building permit is no longer required, lessening the administrative burden on city staff
  • Permit fee reduced to $35 from $70
  • No prohibition on slaughtering

For more background you can refer to extensive media coverage over the past year. Then read the circulation memo and proposed ordinance.

CITIZEN PRUNERS

Interesting in learning about pruning trees and shrubs? If so, Cooperative Extension and the City of Ithaca have a volunteer program that will help you develop pruning skills. The Citizen Pruner volunteer program has been operating in the city since 1990. Classroom training takes place over 3 sessions in April followed by hands-on experience that volunteers gain weekly work sessions throughout the summer. Volunteers are free to come each week or as time permits. Staff from CCE and the City are always on hand during work sessions to help guide volunteers in making pruning decisions.

To register for the classes and learn more about the Citizen Pruner program, call Cooperative Extension at 607-272-2292 or email Monika Roth at mr55@cornell.edu. Classes are open to the public regardless of whether you choose to volunteer.

ART IN THE AIR

The Downtown Ithaca Alliance is looking to liven up the banners hanging on the Commons. They’re seeking proposals from artists for new banner designs. If you’re an artist, or you know an artist, you might want to check this out.

CITIZENS POLICE ACADEMY

Ithaca Police Department will be hosting a Citizens Police Academy from April 6th, 2016 through May 25th, 2016. The goal of the eight-week long IPD Citizens Police Academy is to create a better understanding of the daily activities of police officers who serve in the Ithaca community, to strengthen the relationships with the community and the officers, and to enhance the police services that are provided to the Ithaca community.

The course is a combination of lecture and interactive activities which will give a firsthand look at the department’s functions, resources, and programs. Some topics that will be included are: SWAT and Critical Incident Negotiations Team operations, K9 Team, interactive reality-based scenarios, bicycle patrols, traffic enforcement, officer safety and defensive tactics, police and patrol operations, and narcotics identification. Most of the Citizens Police Academy classes will be held at the Ithaca Police Department. The program will be limited to 20 attendees and preference will be given to those who live or work in Tompkins County. Participation in the program is FREE, and graduates will be issued a graduation certificate. Acceptance into the program is subject to a check of the applicant’s background and references. Applications are due by 3:00 pm Friday, March 25, 2016. Applications can be mailed to or dropped off at the Ithaca Police Department, 120 East Clinton Street, Ithaca, NY 14850. Applications as well as additional information on the IPD Citizens Police Academy can be found here.

That’s about it for March, folks. As always don’t hesitate to get in touch with questions, comments, concerns. Until next month,

Seph