ITHACA, N.Y. – Do you live in Newfield? Or do you drive through the town on your way out of Ithaca on route 13? Either way, Cornell Design Connect and the Newfield Planning Board are on their way to making your neighborhood or morning commute look quite different.

After several months of brainstorming, a team from Cornell University’s ‘multidisciplinary, student-run, community design organization’ known as Design Connect proposed their latest plan to reorganize and revitalize the Newfield Hamlet to the Newfield Planning Board May 26. The proposal titled, “Newfield Hamlet Revitalization Plan (NEWHARP), looks to create a reimagined view of the town alongside solving some traffic issues the town has faced in the past. 

Each semester, Cornell students from all levels of education are welcomed to join the Cornell Design Connect team to gain experience and help local communities and nonprofit organizations who may not have the resources with potential design needs. This semester’s team, headed by Project Manager and Cornell masters program graduate Anthea Fernandes, worked collaboratively with the Newfield Planning Board throughout their planning process and used a community-driven approach to reach the end product. 

“One of the biggest aspects was getting to know what the community wants,” Fernandes said, “we had an overwhelming response… It was a lot of interesting insight into what people thought.”

The presentation was given to the Newfield Planning Board via Zoom and featured a fleshed-out design plan of the town’s future. The team created a palatable plan that could be implemented in phases to be both cost-effective and achievable for the community. 

“It was definitely a wow seeing the PowerPoint,” Town of Newfield Planning Board Chair, Leo Tidd said, “They definitely thought through what would make this a walkable pedestrian-friendly place.”

The phases of the plan were separated into two parts. Phase one confronted the issues of speeding in the town’s busiest areas. It included reducing road space, narrowing neighborhood entrances and overall making the town more pedestrian-friendly. Phase two included larger changes like expanding space near the Tioga Street Bank and realigning Shaffer Road. 

“There’s a big focus on safety, traffic control and getting speeds down,” Tidd said. 

The plan also emphasized more walkable space and making Newfield an overall more enjoyable town. Based on community response and the identified goals, the team used each of their strengths to curate their individualized plan.

“What we have done here is just the first few steps,” Fernandes said, “Putting the flesh on the bones is going to be the next task, and I think the Planning Board is very committed towards this project.”

The next steps for the Newfield Planning Board are to get the proposal approved by the Town and start seeking grant funding. Tidd expressed his interest in pursuing the plan and believed the recommendations would be something that the Town will take into serious consideration. 

“Our next goal as a planning board is to take these design plans and concepts and ideas and possibly add even some more community outreach and then get those adopted by our town board,” Tidd said. 

The Newfield Planning Board is looking to move the plan along in the coming year. More information about Cornell Design Connect can be viewed on their website here

Desiree Holz

Desiree Holz is an intern at the Ithaca Voice and a rising-junior journalism student at Ithaca College. Feel free to email her with tips!