Construction closes part of the Commons walkway. (File photo/Ithaca Voice)

Editor’s Note: The following is an opinion column written by Janet Steiner, a resident of Danby.

Steiner retired as director of the Tompkins Public Library in 2009. She has shopped on the Commons since 1980.

To submit a guest column, contact me at jstein@ithacavoice.com.

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Ithaca, N.Y. — It was a beautiful sunny afternoon downtown. My husband and I were stopped at the stop light at the corner of Aurora and State Street, with Madeline’s restaurant on our left and Viva Taqueria straight ahead.

After checking for traffic, a young mother, holding a baby and two shopping bags stepped into the street on our left. As we watched her, to our horror, she tripped and fell to the street, on top of the baby. She instinctively held the baby’s head so it did not appear to hit the pavement, but it was certainly within one inch of doing so. She managed to rise, gather her belongings, and with the baby now crying, made her way to the triangle at that intersection.

We asked if she was ok. She was obviously shaken up, but responded that she thought she was alright. Others who witnessed this were also approaching her so we continued on our way.

Construction closes part of the Commons walkway. (File photo/Ithaca Voice)

Later we went back to see what had caused her to fall. It was obvious. The new curbing has been set, but no sidewalk, and a large piece of the street missing, about 1 – 2 inches deep, with only gravel laid down.

Having walked the Commons many times recently, I am well aware that the construction site, which technically is behind fencing, is not contained there, but has spilled over into the pedestrian walkways on both sides. Pedestrians must look down at all times to avoid tripping, stumbling or falling. Window shopping is not an option.

The falling young mother and baby made me realize how much of a danger zone we are still being submitted to if we choose to shop downtown. Yes, progress is being made, but we are still months away from a completed and safe Commons. I, for one, will avoid it until then.

— Janet Steiner

214 Buttermilk Lane

Ithaca NY 14850


Previous Ithaca Voice coverage of the new Commons


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Jeff Stein

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