ITHACA, N.Y. — Ithaca residents are invited to weigh in on sidewalk improvement projects at a series of meetings this month. Open houses will be held June 24, 25 and 28 to plan projects across the city’s five Sidewalk Improvement Districts.

The City of Ithaca’s current sidewalk improvement program was implemented in 2014 as a way of pooling repair costs among property owners and shifting the burden of repairs from individual homeowners to larger property holders. Under the scheme, one- and two-family homes are assessed a $70 annual fee while all other properties owe a base fee of $140 plus $15 per 1,000 square feet of building and $30 per 55 feet of lot frontage, with credits available for past sidewalk work. Properties are assigned to five different Sidewalk Improvement Districts, ensuring the fees property owners pay are used for nearby projects.

Projects proposed with community input last year included sidewalk replacement and extension work on West Hill’s Hector Street, designs for new sidewalk stretches along Cecil A. Malone Drive, Fall Creek Drive and Giles Street, and scattered repair and replacement projects.

This summer, construction is underway to extend a sidewalk along the east side of South Aurora Street from Hillview Place to the city limit. City engineer Tim Logue said a detour will be put in place in mid-June and will remain in effect through September while the project is completed, re-routing inbound vehicles onto Hudson Street via Grandview Avenue.

For 2020, the city is specifically interested in hearing public comment about sidewalks included in the Hector Street “Complete Street” project and a redesign of the Elm and Chestnut Streets intersection. These topics will be discussed at the June 24 and 28 meetings, as will the possibility of increasing the sidewalk assessment fee to pay for them.

General input from residents will be used to generate a draft list of sidewalks that need attention, which will be made available to the public and then narrowed by the city’s Engineering Office into a list of proposed 2020 projects. The plan will be presented to the Board of Public Works and will be reviewed by Common Council as part of the 2020 budget process.

Open houses:

  • 5 – 7 p.m. Monday, June 24 at the Lehman Alternative Community School (Sidewalk Improvement Districts 4 and 5)
  • 5 – 7 p.m. Tuesday, June 25 at City Hall, 2nd floor conference room (Sidewalk Improvement Districts 1, 2 and 3)
  • 12 – 2 p.m. Friday, June 28 at City Hall, 2nd floor conference room (All Sidewalk Improvement Districts)

Find your Sidewalk Improvement District here.

Comments and questions can be submitted to John Licitra, the city’s Sidewalk Program Manager.

Devon Magliozzi

Devon Magliozzi is a reporter for the Ithaca Voice. Questions? Story tips? Contact her at or 607-391-0328.