Editor’s Note: This is a guest editorial submitted by several Trumansburg residents. It was not written by the Ithaca Voice. Submit guest columns to tips@ithacavoice.com.

ITHACA, N.Y. — We, the undersigned, are concerned citizens who care deeply about Trumansburg and its future in the face of development and change. Our most urgent concern is the future of 19 acres of land located at 46 South Street. This is where developers want to build Trumansburg’s newest neighborhood and call it “Hamilton Square.”

Yes, the developers, landowner Claudia Brenner and Ithaca Neighborhood Housing Services (INHS), have the right and obligation to develop the land in accordance with laws, codes and standards. But we, as a community, have the right and responsibility to make absolutely certain that this land’s best and most careful development happens in a manner that benefits us now and for generations to come.

“Hamilton Square” is the biggest single development of its type to be proposed in Trumansburg’s history. The proposal review process will test the knowledge and capacity of village government and particularly of the planning and zoning boards. If approved, the entire village will feel its impact and especially those who live on South Street and Pennsylvania Avenue.

It will increase the village’s population by 17%. Vehicular traffic, lighting and noise will intensify in and around it and water, sewer and stormwater infrastructure will expand to serve it.

It will require school, fire, police and emergency services. Its tax revenues will be directed towards the needs and demands it generates.

Related — Opinion: 22 T-burg residents say ‘Yes In My Backyard’ to proposed housing project

Picture this: the nearby Tamarack/Larchmont neighborhood is 27 acres and contains 37 single-family homes built over about twenty years.

Now, in contrast, picture this: At 19 acres, the Hamilton Square site is about 2/3 the size of Tamarack/Larchmont. More than twice as many housing units, 80 to 90, will be built there over a 1-year timeframe. Just 19% of the homes will be market rate. A larger proportion, 81%, will be affordable housing with most, 50 total, being subsidized rentals and only 15 being for-sale homes. Picture an estimated 200-300 people and space for 172 cars on paved roads, parking lots and driveways. Add to this a rental office and activity center/laundromat, sidewalks and four large stormwater pond structures. And also, don’t forget the daily and weekly flows of buses, garbage trucks, deliveries, and service vehicles. In a snapshot, this is Hamilton Square.

The Brenner/ INHS development team’s “picture” of what’s right for 46 South Street gives us great pause. It just doesn’t look or feel right to us. What we see is too big, too out of place and made for far too many people and cars. It’s too “Ithaca”, too much like the previous developments INHS and Brenner have built and tell us to look at. It’s got too many of the same type of cookie-cutter buildings. All, except one, are attached multi-units and most lack garages and private yards.

For affordability, there’s far too great a percentage of subsidized rentals on land managed by a single housing company. The only affordable homes for purchase are part of a duplex or triplex. In other words, there are no, we repeat, no affordable single-family houses in Hamilton Square. Too big equates with too much negative impact on the larger surrounding context. Increased traffic and decreased safety on narrow village streets is certain and added danger at intersections will extend all the way up to Main.

It seems to us what the Brenner/INHS developers are picturing is far too finalized, formulaic and “ready to go.” It seems to fit their fast paced intentions and tactics. They often remind us how experienced they are with doing these projects. Their large paid professional team of experts has worked together before and is always there to fill the room. They are confident their “model” of neighborhood development is a good fit for Trumansburg. Why? Because, they argue, it fits Ithaca, Tyre, and Newfield. Confidence in their model makes them quick to defend it and to offer ready justifications when questions and concerns, by the public, are raised. And remarks like “it’s only a concept and we’ll be handling the details later” and “it could be far worse,” frankly do more to unsettle than reassure.

There will be no turning back once 46 South Street gets developed by Brenner and INHS. Its fields, woods and wetlands will be forever replaced by a built landscape that’s here to stay.

That’s why we feel that getting to “yes in my backyard” will be neither easy nor fast. That’s why we feel this project requires much greater community dialogue, communication and involvement than has happened to date. That’s why we feel there’s a need for more alternative approaches, ones that better echo the village’s Comprehensive Plan, reflect its quiet, rural character, and are more thoughtfully integrated with the surrounding neighborhood context.

We cannot stand idly by and merely entrust the Brenner/ INHS developers and village officials with determining how 46 South Street will develop. We cannot just take a “wait and see” approach or constrain ourselves by sitting on the sidelines and waiting for a chance, when and if provided, to weigh in and explore alternatives. It’s our responsibility now, not later, to actively and fully participate in this precedent-setting project. The neighborhood that will grow up in and around 46 South Street will be determined by the actions we take and the decisions we make together as a community. What happens there will set a standard for future developments of similar scale.

We call on our neighbors and community to seize this moment, get involved, and take a proactive role in guiding and directing 46 South Street’s development so we get it right and it fits the Trumansburg we love and cherish!

Signed by,

  1.  Nancy Tubbs, Tamarack Lane
  2.  Janice Frossard, South Street
  3.  Jack Katz, South Street
  4.  Joan Hogan, Pennsylvania Avenue
  5.  Bill Hogan, Pennsylvania Avenue
  6.  Rachel Lowe, Elm Street
  7.  Brad Lowe, Elm Street
  8.  Paula Horrigan, Pennsylvania Avenue
  9.  Scott Sears, Pennsylvania Avenue
  10.  Elizabeth Meyer, Elm Street
  11.  Sigred Pauen, South St
  12.  Bill Connor, South Street
  13.  Sandy Connor, South Street
  14.  Joan Garner, South Street
  15.  Steve Garner, South Street
  16.  Camille Taranto, Tamarack Lane
  17.  Marianna Wright, Pennsylvania Avenue
  18.  Floyd Cole, Pennsylvania Avenue
  19.  Alice Cole, Pennsylvania Avenue
  20.  Prof. Dr. Andreas Delfs, South Street
  21.  Amy Tait Delfs, South Street
  22.  H. Dorian Delfs, South Street
  23.  R. Severin Delfs, South Street
  24.  G. Lydia Delfs, South Street
  25.  M. Marlene Delfs, South Street
  26.  Susan Lodinsky, South Street
  27.  Lynn Trudell, Larchmont Drive
  28.  Glenn Trudell, Larchmont Drive
  29.  Richard Stephens, Elm Street
  30.  Robert Lodinsky, South Street
  31.  Marilyn Kinner, Pease Street
  32.  Jeff Frey, South Street
  33.  Paige Frey, South Street
  34.  Alicia Grey, Pennsylvania Avenue
  35.  Michael Kenney, Pennsylvania Avenue
  36.  David Boyd, Pennsylvania Avenue
  37.  Jacque Boyd, Pennsylvania Avenue
  38.  Terri Knebel, Prospect Street
  39.  Michael Knebel, Prospect Street
  40.  Rachel Giordano, Pennsylvania Avenue
  41.  John Colunio, Pennsylvania Avenue
  42.  Sarah Rushmore, South Street
  43.  Laurie Cronk, South Street
  44.  Amanda Nivison, Main Street
  45.  Stephen Hunt, Larchmont Drive
  46.  Kimberly Hunt, Larchmont Drive
  47.  Ronda Ketcham, Tamarack Lane
  48.  Steve Ketcham, Tamarack Lane
  49.  Amy Dawson, Larchmont Drive
  50.  Scott Dawson, Larchmont Drive
  51.  Diana Bradham, Tamarack Lane
  52.  Ray Bradham, Tamarack Lane
  53.  Richard Kinner, Pease Street
  54.  Mary Kaszyca, Tamarack Lane
  55.  Anthony N. DeLaurentiis, Pennsylvania Avenue
  56.  Judy DeLaurentiis, Pennsylvania Avenue
  57.  Annie Campbell, Cayuga Street
  58.  Jules Burgevin, Halsey Street
  59.  Patti Burgevin, Halsey Street
  60.  Kevin Winder, Tamarack Lane
  61.  Sue Winder, Tamarack Lane
  62.  Tom Callaghan, South Street
  63.  Ellen Strom, South Street
  64.  Cathie Vellake, South Street
  65.  Sarah Day, Elm Street
  66.  Linda Robertson, Pennsylvania Avenue
  67.  Kelly Masterson, South Street
  68.  Bill Masteron, South Street
  69.  Eugene Burpee, South Street
  70.  Dennis Lynch, Cayuga Street
  71.  Cathy Lynch, Cayuga Street
  72.  Tom Prisloe, East Seneca Road
  73.  Alanna Downey, South Street
  74.  David Fontanella, South Street
  75.  Joel Podkaminer, Main Street
  76.  Deb Pepe, Pennsylvania Avenue
  77.  Tom Pepe, Pennsylvania Avenue
  78.  Patty Clark, Pennsylvania Avenue
  79.  Terry Clark, Pennsylvania Avenue
  80.  Jody Stackman, Whig Street