Update Wednesday morning —
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Bus To Nature: Route 22
Despite hours of debate and dozens of speeches, the Tompkins County Legislature was unable to break a deadlock over a proposal to approve a Travis Hyde plan for key real estate in downtown Ithaca.
Ultimately, the county vote was 6-6.
A county news release said that the vote followed more than four hours of thoughtful deliberation and more than two hours of listening to public comment.
Legislators Mike Sigler, Martha Robertson, Jim Dennis, and Chair Mike Lane all spoke in support of Travis Hyde; Legislators Nathan Shinagawa, Will Burbank, Carol Chock, Dooley Kiefer, Dan Klein, and Leslyn McBean-Clairborne voted no; and Legislators Peter Stein and Kathy Luz Herrera were excused.
ITHACA, N.Y. — The majority of speakers at the Tompkins County Legislature Tuesday afternoon backed the proposal of STREAM Collaborative for developing the “Old Library” site in downtown Ithaca.
The future of the prime real estate is currently being debated by the county legislature. A committee of the legislature recently endorsed a different plan — Travis Hyde’s proposed collaboration with Lifelong in the space — and not the one that appeared to enjoy the most support Tuesday afternoon.
The legislature is set to take up the topic later in the meeting. Developers with Travis Hyde and a few others spoke on behalf of that plan’s collaboration with Lifelong, a senior living non-profit, citing the need for more housing and for housing for seniors in particular.
“I don’t know where you’re going to find another opportunity to bring another 60 units downtown,” said Frost Travis to the legislature.
The STREAM Collaborative plan, however, drew at least more vocal support from the dozens of Ithaca residents at the meeting.
3 of their key reasons for urging lawmakers to reverse the committee’s suggestion:
1 — Environmental impact
As Brian Crandall previously wrote for the Ithaca Voice, the STREAM Collaborative proposal with the Syracuse-based Franklin properties is the only one of three finalists that wants to reuse — rather than tear down and rebuild — the existing building.
That was a big reason cited by many speakers in support of the STREAM plan.
“The energy efficiency and effectiveness of the STREAM proposal really stands out from all the proposals we’ve seen,” said Ithaca resident Tom Hanna.
2 — Neighborhood aesthetics
Other speakers said that they thought the Travis Hyde proposal was for a building that was too dense for the neighborhood for which it was proposed.
“The Dewitt Park neighborhood is very, very special,” said Sarah, a resident of Ithaca for over a dozen years. “I think we need to respect the character of this neighborhood and not build a behemoth just because it’s dense.”
Beth Feldman, of Fall Creek, said she supported the STREAM proposal in part because it “preserves the historic feel of that part of Ithaca.”
“The proposal is very Ithaca and responsive to the needs and lifestyles of Ithaca,” she said.
3 — Community outcry
Other speakers urged the lawmakers to listen to the community, citing the number of residents who were publicly voicing support for the STREAM proposal at the meeting.
“If you believe in the intelligence of this community, you will vote for Franklin STREAM,” said Bob Rossi, an Ithaca resident and business owner, to the legislators.
We’ll update this story after the county vote.