Mayor Myrick, left, with U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, center, and Cornell President Elizabeth Garrett, right. The three spoke at REV: Ithaca Startup Works on Monday.

ITHACA, N.Y. — Three years ago, Mayor Svante Myrick and city officials came up with a plan.

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U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) was set to stop in town. Myrick wanted Gillibrand to see the need for a renovation of the Ithaca Commons, and so had the Congressman tour the old pedestrian strip. Then city officials led Gillibrand to Cinemapolis on Green Street, where they showed a presentation about the proposed renovation and its importance for Ithaca.

Mayor Myrick, left, with U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, center, and Cornell President Elizabeth Garrett, right. The three spoke at REV: Ithaca Startup Works on Monday.

Eventually, the federal government provided $4.5 million for the $15 million project. At an event in downtown Ithaca’s incubator REV: Ithaca Startup Works on Monday, Myrick said Gillibrand played an instrumental role in making the Commons a reality — though he didn’t mention the months-long delays and cost-overrun that came with the construction.

“The senator, truly, was one of the largest champions of this project,” Myrick said, “without her, it would not have happened.”

Gillibrand was in Ithaca on Monday for an event at REV — full disclosure: the Ithaca Voice is a member company of the business incubator — that focused on hardware and other entrepreneurship initiatives in the area. (We’ll be posting an updated story about that event, which also heard from Cornell President Elizabeth Garrett, a little later today.)

But just before starting the round-table, Gillibrand stopped to see the new Ithaca Commons she had a role in helping create.

She said she came away impressed. “I love being on the Commons,” Gillibrand said.

Like Myrick, Gillibrand also spoke of the meeting in July 2012 between city and federal officials about the need to upgrade the old pedestrian strip. “(Myrick) was right all along,” Gillibrand said.

Click on the Ithaca Voice Story Database to learn more. Stories on this topic are filed under “Commons Construction project.”
Click on the Ithaca Voice Story Database to learn more. Stories on this topic are filed under “Commons Construction project.”

In response, Myrick thanked Gillibrand for being “so supportive” of the Commons project. He noted that the business environment for the Commons had improved and that the vacancy rate in the area appears to have plummeted.

“There were a lot of naysayers,” Myrick said. “…But (Gillibrand) said, ‘No pain, no gain.’”

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Jeff Stein

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