ITHACA, N.Y. — Nearly 100 people packed the Tompkins County Legislature chamber Tuesday night for a heated argument over the future of a key development site in Ithaca.


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Bus To Nature: Route 22

Dozens of speakers took turns pleading the lawmakers to pick one of the three final proposals for the site, at the “Old Library” at 310-314 N. Cayuga Street.

Some speakers backed a Travis Hyde/Lifelong proposal, which was endorsed by a county committee. Most voiced support for Franklin Properties/STREAM Collaborative’s plan to reuse the space. Ultimately, the legislature was unable to decide which way to go, tying in a 6 to 6 vote.

See related: 3 proposals emerge for prime real estate in downtown Ithaca

Regardless of your stance on the issue, we thought it would be worthwhile to highlight one speech from last night in particular — the first one that had the room break out into an applause — and republish it.

John Schroeder, an Ithaca resident and member of the city’s planning board, began by emphasizing that he was speaking in his capacity as a private citizen.

(Disclaimer: Schroeder and I worked for a time at the Cornell Daily Sun when I was an editor there.)

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He then proceeded to give this moving endorsement of the STREAM Collaborative proposal, renderings of which can be seen below.

Here’s what Schroeder said about the STREAM building:

“From its massing, which is set back from its lot lines like most buildings in the Dewitt Park Historic District, allowing the main architectural volume to be delightfully surrounded by a community room, cafe and gardens — a perfect complement to Dewitt Park. …

“… To its detailing, which is rich and imaginative and playful like the historic buildings it adjoins, appearing at once contemporary and original to its base, which is open and airy like a dream. …

“…To its vision, which sees the Old Library not as demolition debris to be hauled to a landfill but rather as a resource to be re-imagined and repurposed to a living future. …

“….To its urbanism, which will provide much-needed housing and medical offices. …

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“…To architecture that is contextual to and respectful of this neighborhood…

“…To its integrity and its sense of wholeness, epitomized by the grid solar panels on the main roof, which aren’t just plopped there atop the main structure but rather are arrayed in a pattern integral to its overall design, like they were expressing the building’s very soul. …

“The Franklin Properties proposal is, in my opinion, miles above the rest. It feels like Tompkins County; it feels like Ithaca; it feels like home. It is the project to choose. Thank you.”

Jeff Stein is the founder and former editor of the Ithaca Voice.