Former Ithaca City Alderwoman Susan Blumenthal died February 16, 2023, after eight years as a Stage 4 cancer patient and an intense bout of flu and pneumonia. She was 78.
Blumenthal, who served on Common Council from 1996 to 2004, earned a Master of Regional Planning from Cornell University in 1978.
In 1984, she was appointed to the Ithaca Planning and Development Board and served for 11 years, eight of them as chair. She joined the Downtown Vision Task Force in 1990 and chaired the Downtown Revitalization Leadership Committee. As an alderwoman, Blumenthal gravitated naturally to chair of Common Council’s Planning and Development Committee.
Her focus on planning and economic development helped to bring about many public and commercial improvements in Ithaca. Blumenthal oversaw the economic studies that brought “big box” stores such as Lowes, Walmart, Home Depot and Staples to southwest Ithaca. She was instrumental in the decision-making that led to the siting of the Ithaca Farmers Market at Steamboat Landing.
With Cornell mentor and former Democratic Tompkins County Legislator Stuart Stein, Blumenthal developed the Tompkins County Beautification Program. In the late 1990s she founded the annual Pride of Ownership Award, which honors building projects in the City of Ithaca “that are thoughtful, unexpected and lift the aesthetic experience of their setting and surroundings.”
Blumenthal led a more modest project in her home neighborhood of Belle Sherman: a sidewalk build-out where Route 366, Ithaca Road and Mitchell Street meet. Nicknamed the Blumenthal Bump, it appreciably slows traffic at that intersection. “She knew how things ought to be and made them happen,” said her husband, David Kreinick.
George Frantz, who worked with Blumenthal as a municipal planner, recalls “Susan’s long and fruitful service to the community.
“I had great respect for her as a thoughtful, knowledgeable local leader and independent thinker,” said Frantz.
“Susan was a model of public service to the City of Ithaca,” said Ann Sullivan, current chair of the Third Ward Democratic Committee. “She served the City of Ithaca, the Third Ward and Tompkins County Democratic Committee as a longtime active member. She will be missed.” In addition to her husband, Blumenthal is survived by the couple’s son, Heschi.
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