The City of Ithaca and Sasaki Associates, a Boston architectural firm working on planning a redesign of the Ithaca Commons, will host a public input session this Saturday at the Finger Lakes Wine Center. The downtown session will run from 9:00am-3:30pm.
Downtown Ithaca's iconic pedestrian mall, the Ithaca Commons, was created in 1974 by closing off two blocks of East State Street and two blocks of Tioga Street at the core of downtown. In the nearly forty years since, the space has been used for fairs and festivals, concerts, art shows, rallies, and, seasonally, daily outdoor dining at many of the eateries that line the historic blocks. The downtown business district has competed for decades with malls and other commercial development in the Village of Lansing northeast of the city and an increasingly dense shopping and dining area in Ithaca's southwest. More recently, downtown has seen competition from a burgeoning West End and Waterfront area.
Despite suggestions that the Commons be torn out and traffic flow across downtown be restored, the City of Ithaca has remained committed to the Commons. The City contracted with Sasaki Associates in 2009 to coordinate a design process.
Based in Boston, Sasaki Associates is an architectural and design firm founded by Hideo Sasaki nearly sixty years ago. The company has been involved in other area projects, including development of a master plan a decade ago for Ithaca College's development and growth.
Saturday's public session is divided into a variety of topics, beginning at 9am with discussion on trees and other vegetation planned for the Commons, pavilions at 10:30, water and play features at 12:30, and such design elements as lighting, furniture, and surface materials at 2:00. A lunch break is scheduled from 11:45-12:30. The City Clerk's office asks that members of the public who will need accessibility accommodations contact them in advance at 607-274-6570.