2nd Ward News – April 2016

2nd WARD NEWS – APRIL 2016

This I saw on an April day:
Warm rain spilt from a sun-lined cloud,
A sky-flung wave of gold at evening,
And a cock pheasant treading a dusty path
Shy and proud.

And this I found in an April field:
A new white calf in the sun at noon,
A flash of blue in a cool moss bank,
And tips of tulips promising flowers
To a blue-winged loon.

And this I tried to understand
As I scrubbed the rust from my brightening plow:
The movement of seed in furrowed earth,
And a blackbird whistling sweet and clear
From a green-sprayed bough.

— “In April,” by James Hearst

We made it! Welcome to spring, Ithaca. Things have been busy lately on Common Council. We have a packed agenda for May. As always, if you have questions about anything, don’t hesitate to get in touch! Here’s some news from the month that might be of interest to 2nd ward folks:

HOUSING REFUGEES

We had a really interesting presentation from Catholic Charities at our April Council meeting about a plan to resettle refugees in Tompkins County. This got a lot of attention last fall after the Mayor made a statement on his Facebook page pledging to welcome Syrian refugees to Ithaca. Since then, Catholic Charities have been working on a plan to resettle refugees from war-torn countries in our community. Here’s a nice Ithaca Journal article on their efforts. 

CHIEF OF STAFF

The City of Ithaca has a new Chief of Staff, and he’s a familiar face to many. Dan Cogan served on the Common Council for ten years, and he is a partner at Taitem Engineering. We had an impressive selection of candidates to choose from for this position, and Dan definitely stood out. I think he’s an excellent choice, and I’m confident he’ll do a great job managing the day-to-day operations at City Hall. Please join me in welcoming him aboard!

PARKING UPDATE

As we all know, the transition to the new parking machines has been, ahem, a bit rough. In particular, seniors have really struggled with the new technology, and it’s causing some people to avoid coming downtown, which obviously is not great for local businesses. So we’re making some changes.

For starters, this spring we’ll be in installing more meters. That will help prevent people from having to walk long distances or cross the street to use them. We’re also launching a public education campaign to better inform people about the new technology (something, honestly, we should have done from the beginning).

Finally, we’re also rolling out a new hang-tag system as a supplement to the pay stations and Parkmobile. You’ll be able to purchase pre-paid tags in locations around the city and hang them from your mirror. Merchants will also be able to purchase tags and give them to loyal customers to encourage repeat business. Here’s an Ithaca Journal article about the new system.

401 LAKE STREET HOUSE

Not in the 2nd ward, but an issue that’s drawn some public attention. We’re trying to figure out what to do with a little vacant house next to Ithaca Falls. The City acquired the property through tax foreclosure last year. We kept it out of the public auction because there were differing opinions about what to do with it. It’s in bad shape, but still salvageable. It’s also adjacent to the Ithaca Falls Natural Area, leading some – including the City’s own Natural Areas Commission – to conclude that we should demolish the house and fold the parcel into the Natural Area.

There are good arguments on both sides. The selling camp argues that we need housing, and of course, we never want to forgo tax revenue if we can help it. The demolish camp, on the other hand, argues that the gorge is an environmentally sensitive site, and the falls are an icon and tourist destination. A private residence might not be the most appropriate use here.

We were supposed to vote on this May, but we’ve pushed it to our June Council meeting because we’ll be missing two Council members in May and we want this to be a full discussion. So we have the next month to gather public input. If you have opinions about this, please do get in touch!

STREETS ALIVE

Last minute reminder about Streets Alive: it’s Sunday, May 1st, from 1-5 pm. Come on out to walk, bike, roll, dance, play and shmooze in the streets, North Cayuga & West Court. There’s also “Beats Alive” in front of GIAC, so don’t miss that! See you all there!

Until next month,

Seph