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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
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!
- Nancy Tubbs, Tamarack Lane
- Janice Frossard, South Street
- Jack Katz, South Street
- Joan Hogan, Pennsylvania Avenue
- Bill Hogan, Pennsylvania Avenue
- Rachel Lowe, Elm Street
- Brad Lowe, Elm Street
- Paula Horrigan, Pennsylvania Avenue
- Scott Sears, Pennsylvania Avenue
- Elizabeth Meyer, Elm Street
- Sigred Pauen, South St
- Bill Connor, South Street
- Sandy Connor, South Street
- Joan Garner, South Street
- Steve Garner, South Street
- Camille Taranto, Tamarack Lane
- Marianna Wright, Pennsylvania Avenue
- Floyd Cole, Pennsylvania Avenue
- Alice Cole, Pennsylvania Avenue
- Prof. Dr. Andreas Delfs, South Street
- Amy Tait Delfs, South Street
- H. Dorian Delfs, South Street
- R. Severin Delfs, South Street
- G. Lydia Delfs, South Street
- M. Marlene Delfs, South Street
- Susan Lodinsky, South Street
- Lynn Trudell, Larchmont Drive
- Glenn Trudell, Larchmont Drive
- Richard Stephens, Elm Street
- Robert Lodinsky, South Street
- Marilyn Kinner, Pease Street
- Jeff Frey, South Street
- Paige Frey, South Street
- Alicia Grey, Pennsylvania Avenue
- Michael Kenney, Pennsylvania Avenue
- David Boyd, Pennsylvania Avenue
- Jacque Boyd, Pennsylvania Avenue
- Terri Knebel, Prospect Street
- Michael Knebel, Prospect Street
- Rachel Giordano, Pennsylvania Avenue
- John Colunio, Pennsylvania Avenue
- Sarah Rushmore, South Street
- Laurie Cronk, South Street
- Amanda Nivison, Main Street
- Stephen Hunt, Larchmont Drive
- Kimberly Hunt, Larchmont Drive
- Ronda Ketcham, Tamarack Lane
- Steve Ketcham, Tamarack Lane
- Amy Dawson, Larchmont Drive
- Scott Dawson, Larchmont Drive
- Diana Bradham, Tamarack Lane
- Ray Bradham, Tamarack Lane
- Richard Kinner, Pease Street
- Mary Kaszyca, Tamarack Lane
- Anthony N. DeLaurentiis, Pennsylvania Avenue
- Judy DeLaurentiis, Pennsylvania Avenue
- Annie Campbell, Cayuga Street
- Jules Burgevin, Halsey Street
- Patti Burgevin, Halsey Street
- Kevin Winder, Tamarack Lane
- Sue Winder, Tamarack Lane
- Tom Callaghan, South Street
- Ellen Strom, South Street
- Cathie Vellake, South Street
- Sarah Day, Elm Street
- Linda Robertson, Pennsylvania Avenue
- Kelly Masterson, South Street
- Bill Masteron, South Street
- Eugene Burpee, South Street
- Dennis Lynch, Cayuga Street
- Cathy Lynch, Cayuga Street
- Tom Prisloe, East Seneca Road
- Alanna Downey, South Street
- David Fontanella, South Street
- Joel Podkaminer, Main Street
- Deb Pepe, Pennsylvania Avenue
- Tom Pepe, Pennsylvania Avenue
- Patty Clark, Pennsylvania Avenue
- Terry Clark, Pennsylvania Avenue
- Jody Stackman, Whig Street