Image courtesy of the YMCA of Ithaca and Tompkins County.

ITHACA, N.Y. — In an announcement Thursday afternoon, New York State’s Regional Economic Development Council (REDC) initiative awarded over $13.8 million in grants to Tompkins County organizations, split among 30 local projects.

The REDC is part of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s campaign to increase state investment and economic development. The regional councils are public-private partnerships made up of local experts and stakeholders from business, academia, local government and non-governmental organizations, according to a news release. The awards have taken place since 2011.

The Southern Tier was named a top performer at the state’s REDC awards ceremony, and the amount awarded to the region was substantially greater as a result. The $88.9 million is the largest award it has received since 2015.

“I’m very pleased to see that both the REDCs in my Assembly district – Southern Tier, of which I’m a member, and Central New York – were awarded “top performer” status at the REDC awards today and will receive significant economic development funds from the state to support important local projects,” said Assemblymember Barbara Lifton. “This funding has played, and will continue to play, a major role in helping the Upstate economy. My thanks to the Governor for recognizing the important work that we’re doing in the Southern Tier and Central New York regions to strengthen our economy and create good jobs.”

Likewise, the $13,805,275 amount awarded to Tompkins County is a major boost from previous years – in fact, it’s more than the last three years combined. Last year, about $4.4 million was awarded to Tompkins County. Nearly $5 million was awarded in 2017, and $3.2 million was awarded in 2016. The funding will be used to fund 30 local economic, cultural and quality of life initiatives and projects throughout the county.

Among projects funded are a new urban education center for the Ithaca Children’s Garden, renovations to the State Theatre, Ithaca Farmer’s Market enhancements, $5 million towards the Downtown Ithaca Conference Center, enclosure of the Cass Park Rink, and several arts and environmentally-focused projects.

The county’s three priority projects all appear to have received funding. While no specific funding request amounts were made, the Coddington Road Community Center received $700,000 towards their $3.7 million expansion project, the YMCA in Lansing received $1,184,000 towards their $5.9 million renovation and expansion, and Transonic of Lansing received $440,000 in economic development grants towards their $2.2 million project.

A complete list of funded projects follows below:

City of Ithaca – City of Ithaca Sewer Inflow and Infiltration Study – $30,000 – The City of Ithaca will complete an engineering report that evaluates alternatives to reduce inflow and infiltration in the sanitary sewer collection system within the city sewer district and in sewer lines coming from outlying communities that discharge to the city collection system.

City of Ithaca – Enclosure of Cass Park Rink – $523,269 – Ithaca will enclose its Cass Park Rink to extend the season for winter sports, improve conditions for spectators and skaters, and provide opportunities for year-round use. The rink is used by more than 40,000 people annually for ice skating, hockey, broomball, roller derby, summer camp, private parties, and other events.

City of Ithaca – Giles Street Sidewalk Project – $266,500 – The Giles Street Sidewalk project will create 1,900 linear feet of new, ADA-compliant sidewalk connecting the South Hill and Belle Sherman neighborhoods and create a Safe Route to School for the two elementary schools within the corridor. Removing the missing link in the sidewalk system will also allow the neighborhoods to be connected to downtown and Cornell University.

City of Ithaca – Green New Deal Action Plan – $100,000 – The City of Ithaca will develop a road map to achieve carbon emission reduction goals as outlined in the Green New Deal by completing government operations greenhouse gas and fleet inventories and a community-wide greenhouse gas inventory. This information will be used to inform a Green New Deal Action Plan.

City of Ithaca – Ithaca Farmer’s Market Enhancements – $339,150 – The City of Ithaca, in partnership with Ithaca Farmer’s Market (IFM), will prepare designs, permits, and preconstruction documents to enhance the IFM pavilion and grounds located on the Cayuga Lake Inlet and Cascadilla Creek. This project implements the Cayuga Lake Waterfront Plan though making improvements, including a re-envisioned market pavilion, ADA access, bus/shuttle services, and fire protection that will transform the market into a year-round waterfront destination.

Coddington Road Community Center – CRCC Expansion – $700,000 – The Coddington Road Community Center will expand and modernize their facilities, to increase child care and after school care capacity in close proximity to employment centers in the Town and City of Ithaca.

Community School of Music and Arts (CSMA) – Workforce Expansion – $19,000 – The Community School of Music and Arts will hire a new Marketing and Outreach Manager to create and implement comprehensive strategies to increase program and event participation, and reach expanded audiences throughout the Ithaca region and beyond. (Funding for Year 1 of 2)

Cornell University – Energy Recovery and Building Controls Project – $1,200,000 – Cornell University will work to recover and reuse waste heat in four research/lab facilities on campus, upgrade building controls system, and continue associated recommissioning for multiple campus facilities. In addition to reducing energy consumption and carbon emissions significantly, the new systems provide additional resiliency to buildings harboring sensitive research.

Finger Lakes Land Trust, Inc. – Cayuga Lake Cliffs Protection Project – $327,475 – The Finger Lakes Land Trust expects to purchase Ridge Road property (State Route 34B) in the Town of Lansing, Tompkins County, for use as a nature preserve with parking and trails. The property features more than 4,000 feet of “railway” lakeshore, multiple gorges and waterfalls, open fields, and mature woodlands.

Ithaca Children’s Garden – Urban Environmental Education Center – $500,000 (ESD) – Ithaca Children’s Garden will construct an environmental education center on Ithaca’s West End Waterfront, to accommodate full-day pre-school, summer camp, and after school programming. The center will address the region’s critical child-care need with innovative youth and environmentally-focused events, conferences, and programs all year round.

Ithaca Children’s Garden – Urban Environmental Education Center including Childcare – $358,950 (NYSERDA) – Ithaca Children’s Garden will construct a net-zero energy Urban Environmental Education Center. The building design includes increased insulation levels and air-tight construction, an air-source variable refrigerant flow heating and cooling system, and a solar array to achieve net-zero energy performance. The project will provide daycare for residents, educational activities to visitors and tourists, and health and wellness activities for the community.

Ithaca College – Ithaca College Carbon Challenge Project – $500,000 – During the summer of 2019, Ithaca College’s Senior Leadership Team formally launched a Strategic Planning Review Process that incorporates many potential sustainability elements, including an expedited carbon neutrality date. To that end, Ithaca College will install a new, on-site thermal plant utilizing ground source heat pumps to reduce carbon emissions and to facilitate future transitions from natural gas to heat pump systems.

Kitchen Theatre Company – Workforce Training and Development Programs – $45,000 – Renewed support for the Kitchen Theatre Company’s Professional Training and Development Program which will expand opportunities for local young people through on-the-job training in arts administration and production and improve the employment pipeline.

Opera Ithaca – Workforce Training and Development Programs – $22,500 – The Opera Ithaca Apprentice Artist Program is a bridge between the academic and professional phases of the careers of young artists. This program provides singers opportunities to develop their skills in a supportive professional environment. (Funding for Year 1 of 2).

Opus Ithaca School of Music Inc. – Workforce Expansion – $15,000 – Renewed support for a full-time position of Coordinator of Community Engagement and Education, which helps to provide more opportunities for the organization’s diverse community to access quality music education.

Seventh Art Corporation of Ithaca d/b/a/ Cinemapolis – Workforce Expansion – $36,000 – Seventh Art Corporation of Ithaca will create a new operations manager position for Cinemapolis, a five screen art house cinema. This position will strengthen the organizational capacity of the theater and bolster an important community and cultural resource. (Funding for Year 1 of 2)

State Theatre of Ithaca Inc. – State Theatre Lobby Expansion Project 2019 – $145,000 – The State Theatre of Ithaca will expand and enhance the lobby of the State Theatre. The project will improve space, ticketing and concession experiences for visitors, as well as improve accessibility and ADA compliance.

The Cherry Arts, Inc. – Workforce Expansion – $12,500 – Renewed support for The Cherry Arts’ Artistic Director, which last year was expanded from a part-time, project funded position to a full-time, salaried position. The transition stabilized and professionalized the institution.

Tompkins County Chamber of Commerce Foundation, Inc. – Downtown Ithaca Community Conference Center – $4,500,000 (ESD Grants) – Tompkins County Chamber of Commerce Foundation, Inc. will construct the Downtown Ithaca Community Conference Center in the heart of Downtown Ithaca. The center will provide meeting, conference, and event space adjacent to parking, four hotels, and public transit.

Tompkins County Chamber of Commerce Foundation, Inc. – Downtown Ithaca Community Conference Center – $500,000 (ESD MNY) – Tompkins County Chamber of Commerce Foundation, Inc. will construct and operate a regionally significant Community Conference Center, to be located in the
heart of Downtown Ithaca. The two-story center will be located in the new Vecino Asteri Complex, a major landmark 11 story mixed-use building. The Community Conference Center is expected to increase visitation to the area and the overall region.

Tompkins County Soil and Water Conservation District – Tompkins County Hydroseeding Program – $261,110 – The Tompkins County Soil and Water Conservation District will implement a county-wide program to
hydroseed recently scraped ditches on municipal roads. The program will improve water quality by decreasing erosion and runoff containing sediments and other pollutants.

Town of Dryden – Town of Dryden Streambank Stabilization – $705,635 – The Town of Dryden will implement a streambank stabilization and riparian buffer program along Lower Fall Creek, a major tributary to Cayuga Lake. The program will improve water quality by decreasing erosion and runoff that contains sediment and nutrients. It will also increase resiliency by minimizing flooding.

Transonic Systems – Global Competitiveness through Automated Manufacturing – $220,000 (ESD EJP) – Transonic Systems will transition their existing manufacturing plant in Ithaca, NY, to include automated processes, allowing the company to create jobs and meet continued demand for their medical
device products.

Transonic Systems – Global Competitiveness through Automated Manufacturing – $220,000 (ESD Grants) – Transonic Systems will transition their existing manufacturing plant in Ithaca, NY, to include automated processes, allowing the company to create jobs and meet continued demand for their medical
device products.

Trumansburg Community Nursery School – New Building Construction – $250,000 – Trumansburg Community Nursery School (TCNS) will construct a new building to house an expansion of their current parent cooperative preschool. The new building will allow TCNS to add classrooms, extend hours for working families, and expand community programs and partnerships in Trumansburg, NY.

Trumansburg Conservatory of Fine Arts – Workforce Expansion – $12,500 – Renewed support for a Managing Director position, enabling the organization to continue to grow and develop its audience, fundraising, and programs.

Village of Cayuga Heights – Road Culvert Right Sizing Project – $756,786 – The Village of Cayuga Heights will complete culvert upgrades to alleviate localized flooding and allow the construction of sidewalks along Cayuga Heights Road, one of the main thoroughfares in the village.

Village of Dryden – Village of Dryden Sewer Inflow and Infiltration Study – $30,000 – The Village of Dryden will complete an engineering report that evaluates alternatives for reducing the amount of inflow and infiltration in its sanitary sewers.

Village of Freeville – Village of Freeville Wastewater Treatment Plant and Collection System Improvements Study – $24,900 – The Village of Freeville will complete a flow management plan that evaluates alternatives to reduce inflow and infiltration to the sanitary sewer collection system.

YMCA of Ithaca and Tompkins County – YMCA Capital Expansion – $1,184,000 – The YMCA of Ithaca and Tompkins County will expand its programming through a renovation and expansion of their facility in the Village of Lansing that will accommodate increased child-care and support spaces for the Ithaca community.

Thomas Giery Pudney contributed to this report.

Brian Crandall

Brian Crandall reports on housing and development for the Ithaca Voice. He can be reached at bcrandall@ithacavoice.com.