ULYSSES, N.Y.— The Ulysses Town Board announced it is purchasing 30 acres to develop the town’s first publicly owned recreational area on Krums Corners Road for $210,000 in a statement from town officials released Aug. 4. 

The board will use funds allocated to the town from the American Recovery Plan Act, as well as savings the town has set aside in years past for the purpose of purchasing recreational space.

The soon-to-be recreational lot is part of a larger 90 acre parcel located at 2141 Kraft Road, which is owned by residents Heather and Mark Washburn, who serves as the town’s code enforcement officer. The sale is expected to be finalized later this month, according to the statement. 

Town officials and Trumansburg Community Recreation (TCR), a non-profit focused on developing recreational facilities and programs, have been reaching out to large property owners in Ulysses since March of this year, as written in the statement. This is how officials found the Washburns, whose farm has been owned by Heather’s family, the Krafts, since 1920. 

“We took a while to really think about this offer,” Washburn said. “We’ve realized this is exactly the kind of opportunity we would love to see my grandfather’s family farm land used for.” 

This is the second offer the town has submitted this year to purchase land for recreational development. Back in March, the town put an offer on 13 acres along Route 96 and Perry City. The statement said the town was outbid by an unnamed “out-of-town entity.”

Town Supervisor Katelin Olson explained in the statement that the town was “uniquely” able to purchase land at this time because of one-time federal funding, the generosity of the sellers and a “highly successful” collaboration with the board of TCR. 

Ulysses is one of the few towns in Tompkins County without dedicated public recreational space. Most publicly owned recreational spaces in the county were purchased decades ago, when land was much cheaper. Now, according to the statement, there is a shortage of space in town suited to purchase and develop for public use.

Town officials have been in conversation with TCR and the Trumansburg Central School District (TCSD) for more than six years, according to the statement.

TCSD has allowed the town to use their facilities to provide public programming to help fill the gap, but, according to Olson in the statement, the town’s desire for space “exceeds existing facility capacity.” 

The town has been grappling with the lack of public space to hold recreational activities and other gatherings for “at least” 14 years, Olsen said in the statement. Community organizations and public programming have had to compete for usage of space, even with TCSD’s help. 

The new space is expected to reduce pressure on TCSD’s facilities and will allow the town to expand the types of activities and programming it provides to meet growing needs of residents. 

Todd Edmonds, president of TCR, said in the statement Ulysses has “historically been underserved for free and accessible outdoor spaces to gather, play sports and explore nature compared to surrounding towns in the area.”

TCR and the town are in the process of developing a Memorandum of Understanding regarding their relationship. 

Judy Lucas is a General Assignment Reporter for The Ithaca Voice. Have a story idea? Comment or question? You can reach me at jlucas@ithacavoice.org or on Twitter @judy__lucas.